Friday of the Second Week of Advent
Let’s make a quick return to that opening collect from Sunday, where we ask God to “remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy.” I have always thought of this as a wonderful expression of our Advent longings, that we ask God to remove those things that keep us from receiving Christ with JOY.
Just what are we asking the LORD to remove from us? Remove the boulders and rocks, level the mountains, and lift up the valleys. But sometimes it’s true to say that we ourselves become those rocks and mountains and hills. We get in the way of our own ability to receive the Lord with JOY. Or to put it another way, our actions and thoughts—in short, our sins—get in the way.
In this short Gospel passage, Jesus is confronted with the indifference or fickleness of the crowd. It’s as if he says, “Well, what do you want? What does it take to get through to you?” In that instance, the people demonstrate a very human way of being. They were hard to please or perhaps not sure what they wanted. I suspect we can be like that too! In terms of our Advent journey, we do not want to be difficult, to raise roadblocks or pointless hurdles. We do not need to make it difficult for ourselves to receive Christ with JOY.
It is a basic truth about Advent that of all the seasons of the year, Advent is the most true to life and the tasks of our lifetimes. All our days are spent waiting, listening for the Lord’s voice, opening our hearts in welcome, reaching out to brothers and sisters in need.
And it is this time – the now of our lives – that every year we come to these days of ADVENT. We look to the reality of the FIRST coming of the LORD – his birth among us long ago. That fact that JESUS was born for us is, or should be, cause enough to stir our hope, strengthen our faith, and keep us going and in fact to receive Christ who comes – with joy.
Reflection by Fr. Peter Ullrich, OSB