First Sunday of Advent - Fr. Pete Iorio
Primer Domingo de Adviento - Padre Pedro Iorio
Noviembre 28, 2020 - 7:00 PM
November 29, 2020 - 8:30 AM
Grabación de Audio
I have a good friend who is a widow and lives by herself. She was not looking forward to Thanksgiving because her son and daughter-in-law would not travel (she has not seen them since last December) nor would she go to any friend’s home because of you know what… the coronavirus. She was very lonely and sad when the day began. She longed for connection.
What is your deepest desire? What are you longing for? Father Ron Rohlheiser says that Advent is about getting in touch with our longing. It is about letting our yearnings raise our psychic temperatures so that we are pushed to eventually let down our guard, hope in new ways, and risk intimacy.
One of my favorite Advent saints, John of the Cross (whose feast day is December 14th) has a similar image: Intimacy with God and with each other will only take place, he says, when we reach a certain kindling temperature. For too much of our lives, he suggests, we lie around as damp, green logs inside the fire of love, waiting to come to flame but never bursting into flame because of our dampness. Before we can burst into flame, we must first dry out and come to kindling temperature. We do that, as does a damp log inside a fire, by first sizzling for a long time in the flames so as to dry out.
How do we sizzle psychologically and spiritually? For John of the Cross, we do that through the pain of loneliness, restlessness, disquiet, anxiety, frustration, and unrequited desire. In the torment of incompleteness our psychic temperature rises so that eventually we come to kindling temperature and, there, we finally open ourselves to union in new ways. That too is an image for Advent.
Advent is about loneliness, but loneliness is a complex thing. It includes putting into practice Patience and Waiting with Hope. Advent includes being alert and watchful to what is going on around us and also inside us.
The Church invites us to reflect on a reading from the prophet Isaiah. The prophet regrets the infidelities of the people but insists on the fidelity of God as father and redeemer. The people of Israel had come out of exile and came to their land with tremendous hope but found a destroyed city and their temple in ruins. They felt abandoned, lonely, defeated. However, the prophet reminds them that God had never abandoned them. There is always hope.
It may be that we are experiencing the disappointment of the Israelites. Our world seems devastated by the coronavirus, by isolating ourselves to stay healthy, by the division in society, by fear about the future, by the economic situation, by doubts regarding the education of children, and for much more. Today the prophet speaks to us in his own words, reminding us that God is faithful and full of tenderness.
Advent is about longing, about getting in touch with it, about letting it raise our psychic temperatures, about sizzling as damp, green logs inside the fires of intimacy, about intuiting the kingdom of God by seeing, through our desires, what the world might look like if a Messiah were to come and, with all of us, establish justice, peace, and unity on this earth.
Scripture tells us that the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, of simple bodily pleasure, but a coming together in justice, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, that is what we ache for in our loneliness and longing: oneness, intimacy, completeness, harmony, peace, and justice.
We can have hope because we have seen signs of this Kingdom. We know that the power of God can overcome evil, and so we live in hope. Sometimes, it is hard. The readings urge us to move from our complaints to an attitude of trust. In other words, we have to wait in confidence.
And what about my friend who feared the loneliness of Thanksgiving all by herself? She texted me “Turned out to be one of the best Thanksgivings ever, even if I was alone.” Why is that? Desire, longing, patience, openness, faith, trust and hope.