|Murillo's Holy Family|
We often pray for God to rescue us from a crisis of one kind or another, to appear and make things right. Some would say that is everyone’s story.
God seems silent sometimes. But our faith proclaims loudly that God is indeed among us. He is closer than we are to ourselves. Do not be afraid, Jesus proclaims; I am with you always.
The word of God gives us Baruch, in the sixth century before Jesus. Times were catastrophic for the Jews; everything they thought would endure suddenly disappeared. Yet, Baruch spoke of hope: a faithful people who will reflect the glory of God.
Paul, in his letter to the Christian community prayed that we will possess true wisdom, to distinguish what matters in life from what doesn’t, so that we will always do the right thing.
In the Gospel according to Luke, John the Baptizer proclaims repentance: prepare our hearts for the Lord. Yes, ask God to help us to hear the word of God in our hearts and turn toward a God-centered, other-centered life.
Isaiah spoke about a future Messiah, a liberator, a redeemer, a savior for us.
John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, who through his own death and resurrection creates a future for us.
The Virgin Mary is the living temple of God, the ark of the covenant. She carried within herself the Word made flesh, a child, Emmanuel, God with us.
The word of God in Advent also briefly references Joseph, who had a dream in which the angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”
I ponder couples’ dreams when they learn that they will be parents. Their first dreams are usually for a safe birth, a healthy child. Then they may dream that their son or daughter will excel. Along the way, things may change very quickly. Parents may pray for their child to pass courses, or recover from an illness or a serious accident, or overcome an addiction.
As Joseph learned, the most important things we can dream for those we love are these: that they always will know that we love them dearly, we accept them unconditionally for who they are, we are ready to forgive them their so-called peccadilloes, and that we are always praying that God will grace them.
All these are manifestations of faith. As I view the beautiful windows in our church, and value the light illuminating them, I think of a quote President Bush read at the National Cathedral:
...without faith, we are but stained-glass windows in the dark.
But with the light of our faith, we illuminate the same splendid multi-colored stain-glass window into a "work of art" for all to see. May the light of our faith make our lives a "work of art" for all to see Jesus as our way, our truth and our life.