Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: November 18, 2019

 

Dwight Longenecker reminds us to remember the shadowy side of life when he says, “in this winter season we also ought to face the facts of the grim reaper.”

For people like me who struggle with depression, this is a tough time of year. Our unworthiness increases as the darkness comes in greater length. We find it difficult to see light and hope, and as a pastor these feelings migrate deeper when Advent comes, which I love deeply, but so many Christians relegate it to a time of shopping and are away from the church as we proclaim the Hope that will soon come in the form of a poor infant, in old clothes fashioned of found rags, in a borrowed stable used to feed the lowliest of beasts. So, I wonder…for what are we joyful? For what are we waiting?

While so many are waiting for the best deals on Xboxes, Barbie’s Dream Plane, Zero Gravity Race Cars, and the latest of video games, faithful Christians around the world are also waiting for something quite different. They are waiting for justice, freedom, and peace. They are waiting for food in their bellies and a roof over their heads. They are waiting to be saved from drugs or from the person enslaving them into prostitution. They are waiting for the God who will give them rest from all their enemies, as we hear in the first readings on Christmas Eve in the warmth of our parishes.

Indeed, strange as it may sound to our ears, evil is at the heart of Christmas. We might even ask if there would be a Christmas without evil, or at least if we would have so much cause for joy, because without evil there would be no need for deliverance, no need for hope, no need for God. It is only because we live in a world consumed with wickedness, dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death, that we have reason to seek the unconditional love of the God we adore. This is Advent.

That’s why a true Franciscan looks beyond the shallow joy of the commercialized Christmas, to the hope that lies on the other side of this dark night of evil. St. Francis so aptly reminds us in his own words,  “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” 

So, then let the rest of the world shout Season’s Greetings between ceiling-high shelves of fluorescent-lit plastic toys and decorations of fleeting joy. We have hope and we know that no matter how powerful evil may seem at the moment, however triumphant it may appear in this world, it does not – and will not – ever have the final word.

How will I honor Advent this year? How will I teach my children the true meaning of this season of giving? How will I support the work of my church? How will others see what I truly believe?
 

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