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First Sunday of Advent – Cycle A

27 November 2010

Reflecting on Romans 13:11-14

I once had an intense experience of darkness on a freezing Colorado night at the Trappist monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.  Retreatans are invited to walk the mile from the retreat house to the chapel for Vigils at 4:30 am.  In that entire, moonless valley, the single light was a humble bulb over the chapel door.  For those who didn’t stray from the path it must have seemed an easy journey towards the light.  But for me― lost, cold, uneasy in the dark mountains―the absence of a light to guide me seemed thoughtless and almost hostile.

I’ve never forgotten that feeling of abandonment and cold.  There were no stars, and no bright moon to illuminate the path.  My feet were numb, and I had lent my gloves to a person I had only met an hour ago.  I walked several miles alone in that valley, lost, searching the sky for the first violet of dawn.

And it came, of course.  Morning stars pulled the violets and rose from the sky.  The night had advanced, the day was at hand.  And as the morning light awakened the valley I could see it finally―that tiny light just off to my left, the light that had been there all the time, beckoning me to the warmth of the chapel.

I think about that light this Advent, and I wonder how many silent souls are out there in the cold, searching for us, but unable to find us because our light is too dim, too distant, too familiar to those who know the way and too far away for those who are lost.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

How brightly does your light shine in the darkness?

What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.

I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Advent - Cycle A

6 Comments to “First Sunday of Advent – Cycle A”

  1. As Father read the Gospel at Mass, I focused more on the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared,” which is closely connected with making sure my light shines brightly in the darkness. If I keep a priority of being prepared, because Jesus could return in a second, I will enlighten those around me — by my life of preparing in prayer and actions to be ready for that second coming any second. I don’t know how good a job I am doing of that . . . but I trust that God will show me the way by His Light! Then, all I have to do is pay attention and act accordingly. Pray for me.

  2. The times that I have walked in the dark my mind went into overdrive, every sound in the weeds and every barking dog would unnerve me. but that was a physical darkness, the darkness I walked in that should have shaken me to the core didn’t”until” I was out of it and back in the light of God. When I came out of my first confession, this side of that long dark night of the soul, suddenly things were no long shades of grey, truth wasn’t subjective. right was right and wrong was wrong. I had to look at the playgrounds and playmates in my life and decide what God was wanting of me. It’s not been easy, in fact it’s been hard to discern my thoughts, words and deeds on a Christian level. I think the light that God wants me to be is the light of a loving convert to my friends, who think that Christians are mean, angry judgmental people that no one wants to be. I remember and feel the things that pushed me away from the Faith, and I know that only by owning my actions and then trusting in the forgivingness of God is there true happiness. Being a happy Christian draws people to the light of God It’s not my light but God’s light that draws people to conversion. I’m just one little smiley face night light that God called on.

  3. Thanks, Becky, that is a great reflection! I believe you’re exactly right. Piety isn’t a stern or even solemn facial expression or any of the physical gestures. It truly is in showing people that being Christian is a joyful life. You made my day!

  4. I like Becky’s smiley face night light…I believe that sonmetimes in my impatience, I try to shine a glaring light which might be too much for some people..there’s light and there’s light AND there is LIGHT. – – Cris

  5. How brightly does your light shine in the darkness?
    Because of having been unemployed for six months without unemployment benefits, I’ve started working as a temp in a position that does not use my skills and talents. Instead, it is a constant challenge to understand how things flow, to pick up speed, to be accurate, etc. Things I could have done easily if I didn’t feel such desperation to work, to succeed. As a matter of fact, this has become a “lesson in humility.”
    I work with people who are more than half my age and have grown up with computers as second nature to them. I have to admire their patience as they help me over and over to “get it.” This feels like another kind of darkness and I certainly don’t “shine” when it comes to the work that I do. I feel like I just about get by.
    But this is what my friend St. Jude brought me to when I finally began to pray to him, asking for a position that would allow me to use my gifts and talents for the honor and glory of God and to make a decent living. Every day I ask God to accept what I do in his honor, because I don’t see how I’m being used in the best possible way.
    Doing ministry, spiritual direction and retreats is what I love doing and what I’m good at. As I type this, people from work are coming to mind who have told me about their spirituality without my asking, who have said that what I did made their day, who trust me with their story over lunch. Perhaps this is where I shine…in asking questions that help people know more deeply who they are. I listen with compassion and notice the little changes that take place in them.

  6. Bobbie, what a beautiful gift you share by being an attentive listener and knowing how to ask the questions that deepen another’s journey to growth and self-awareness. I will be praying that you find work where your talents and vocation can find full expression, but it looks like you already have recognized that you can make a big impact right where you are. So glad to see you joining the conversation again!

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