Longing for the coming of Christ
We have had a few glimpses of summer this past week or so but then it’s cooler again or raining. I had a conversation with a neighbour walking her dog just a few days ago. She said summer is here. I agreed with her but now as I write this, I am not so sure. When our weather is changeable and unstable as it has been lately, we can wonder if we are going to have any summer at all. I am optimistic though. Summer is coming!
The String of Hope
The Advent Season begins today, and Advent of course is all about the coming of Christ who is the hope of a different kind of summer into our lives and into our world.
Christ came to us in history, he comes to us personally in his Spirit and in one another and he will come again at the second coming. Advent takes in all these aspects.
Given the way the world is and what we face in our personal lives at times can make us wonder about and even doubt the coming of Christ sometimes. When will this promised summer arrive? Advent asks us to have that spirit of hopeful expectation. There is a famous 19th century painting entitled ‘Hope’ in which a woman is portrayed with bandaged eyes. She is unable to see ahead of herself. In her hands is a harp with broken strings representing her shattered dreams and expectations. One string on the harp remains intact, it is the string of hope. With Christ on our side that string of hope can play a powerful tune. It has been played and continues to be played by many courageous people, including ourselves and people we know. In fact, seeing how other people deal with their issues can be our string of hope sometimes.
Things were bad as we know in the time of Christ and He kept promising ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’. His healings and miracles were a sign of that. We hear in the scriptures this Sunday about the days that are coming when God’s promises to the house of Israel will be fulfilled and in St Paul’s letter about hearts being conformed in holiness when Jesus Christ comes with all his saints. In the Gospel taken from Luke 21:25-28, 34-36 the figure of ‘the Son of Man is seen coming in a cloud with power and glory bringing liberation. All these readings invite us to hope and to perseverance. What we are dealing with now that seems insurmountable will pass.
Some would say the time the world is experiencing at present and what we hear on the news is the worst it’s ever been. We certainly get to hear about wars and tragedies instantly. It is understandable some people lose hope. In the early Church undergoing persecution, they thought the promised second coming of Jesus would be soon. Given our experience as Christians of our time, it’s the long haul we are asked to engage in.
What matters is that we are a people who believe that Jesus has come into our world and that he did show us the way to live and to be free. We are invited in the Gospel today to keep awake to those blessings and opportunities that come our way. Those little comings of Christ that we can miss if we are preoccupied with the cares of life. To recognise them, to celebrate them, give thanks for them.
Sickness is always a challenge for us and we don’t like seeing those close to us suffering. One of my community members is undergoing chemotherapy at present and it is taking a lot out of him. He has a great attitude. When we pray for his healing and for him to be comforted in his illness, those realities are coming to him through the hands of so many health professionals caring for him and working to restore and improve his health. I am truly inspired by their efforts and genuine concern. I celebrate and give thanks for how Christ is present and acting in them even if they don’t recognise it themselves.
The Advent Season reminds us to keep longing and hoping for more of Christ’s presence and influence to be realised in our lives, in the lives of other people and in our broken world. Jesus wants us to help bring this about. His kingdom is here but it’s not completely here. We know him and experience his love and forgiveness but there’s more, there’s always more. More opportunities to let go of bitterness towards a family member or colleague. More opportunities to take time with someone who simply wants us to be present. When our eyes and ears are open to opportunities like this we witness his kingdom breaking through and we get to share in the promise of greater things to come.
Son of God and Son of Man
Come to us in splendour
Awake in us your holy light
And give fresh vision to our sight.