First Sunday of Advent
Wait! Watch! Be Ready! The readings today have a sense of urgency. Who are we waiting for? What are we looking for? How can we be ready? These are the questions I have as we begin a new Church year, Advent! This is a season of anticipation and a time for patience and contemplation.
Pope Francis has declared this Sunday as the beginning of a Year of Consecrated Life. He asks us to “Wake up the world” to the Joy of the Gospel. I believe that all life is consecrated or blessed because God has created all Life and declared this is good!
When I was a young adult I was filled with enthusiasm and idealism. I was inspired by Vatican II and the excitement of greater participation in my church. I listened to the challenge of JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Fresh out of college with a teaching degree I was set on transforming the world. I joined a volunteer program to teach in a poor region. I knew that without the volunteers and sisters there would not be any Catholic school in the town. It was the volunteers and sisters who provided the religious education and sacramental preparation for the town and surrounding missions. We, as volunteers attempted to be the mentors and advocates for the children entrusted to our care.
I was so enthusiastic and confident. I know I wasn’t the only volunteer using part of the $100 a month stipend to buy supplies, books and rewards for the students. I made it a point to visit every student’s home to get to know their families and to encourage each student and parent. Into the second year I became discouraged and depressed. Was I really Doing anything that would have a lasting effect? Did anyone care?
I remember one sleepless night going out to the playground and swinging. I looked at the stars, smelled the fall leaves and felt the cool crisp air. I asked God what more was expected of me? What was my purpose? Did I have a purpose in life? I remember how my torment and anguish gradually melted as I cried. Then a deep sense of peace and calm washed over me. I began to sing some of the popular Jesuit hymns of the day. I knew my life had a purpose, I just had to wait and to live into who God was calling me to become. I didn’t have any answers yet, and many days I still don’t. But I try each day to listen and to respond to God’s call.
I am so grateful for the season of Advent. It reminds me that I am still waiting to hear God’s call each day. I’m still watching to see how Christ will appear today, in the stranger, the co-worker, the friend. I hope I am ready to receive Christ in each person I meet.
Jan Ginzkey, OSB