Wednesday, December 23, 2015

At Advent's end.

As the Advent season comes to its end, I'm thinking how different it has been for me this year. I've done the usual things: gone to parties, bought and wrapped presents, wrote and mailed cards. Yet, while the festive mood has gripped me on occasion, I've become more pensive. It may just be that I'm getting older; intimations of mortality and all that. I've thought of friends I've lost; most recently Mario, my law school classmate and roommate for our first year in New York. I've been eating and drinking less. In some ways, it seems more like Lent.

Advent and Lent are both seasons of preparation; Advent for a birth, Lent for a death, but followed by a resurrection. Alfred Delp, a German Jesuit priest imprisoned, tortured, and hanged by the Nazis, had this to say about Advent:
Advent is the time of promise, but not yet the time of fulfillment. The world is still filled with the noise of destruction, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, the weeping of despair. But round about the horizon the eternal realities stand silent in their age-old longing. And there shines already the first light of the radiant fulfillment to come.
Like Europe in the early 1940s, and like Palestine under Roman rule 2,100 years ago, today we have "the noise of destruction, the shouts of self-assurance and arrogance, and the weeping of despair." We have calls to hang out the sign, "No room at the inn." We have massacres of the innocent. We have refugees, as Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus became escaping Herod's massacre.

I cherish the hope that this Advent will bring a rebirth of compassion in enough hearts to start to reverse our present course; that the "eternal realities" cease to be silent in those hearts, among those realities being the need to "love those we find it hardest to love."

Image: Crossing the Streams.