Advent Reflections 2020
By Brian Grogan S.J.,
Our first Christmas which will be held in the shadow of COVID–19 is fast approaching. Christmas will already be hard for those who are unhappy in any way: the lonely, the poor, the unemployed, the
homeless, those alienated from partners, the physically sick and the depressed. When we are unhappy the greeting, ‘Merry Christmas!’ can seem like a poor joke. And then add all the restrictions associated with COVID-19!
The reflections which follow are written with this perspective in mind. They are an invitation to us ‘to drink from our own wells’. No matter how appalling our situation may be, deep down in each of us is a sacred space from which our life emerges: call it a well, a creating spark, an immortal diamond. It is there that the divine Mystery awaits us and greets us with love beyond all telling. This is the true source of Christmas joy, and it is inexhaustible. It enables us to survive the worst that life may inflict on us. As Pope Francis says, ‘When everything is said and done, we are limitlessly loved!’ This can ease our heart’s pain and our tears and even bring a smile to our faces.
May these reflections encourage us to dig deep, so that Christmas joy may be ours. And since joy is for sharing, may we share it with those we meet, and perhaps also experience the joy of receiving it in return.
FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT
This Christmas will be different from any we have known:
Less partying and visiting… Less crowded shopping… Less visits to Santa… Smaller groupings at religious services… Even restricted singing… And so on.
So we are forced to dig deeper than ever before to find the true joy of Christmas.
But we can accept a gentler Christmas When we realise that in this quiet time a Great Secret is being whispered to us, A secret so deep that it can best be heard in silence. It’s a Love-Secret from God much too big for our small hands to grasp, but which instead takes hold of our poor hearts and makes us smile with deep joy. The Secret?
‘I became human for you, so that you could become like me
and so share my happiness!’ This is the best of all possible gifts; breath-taking and all-embracing. It transforms our lives and makes us see
That everyone is important, and that no matter how small or wretched I may feel I am all-important to God. ‘Look, God’s Gift-list has MY name on it!’
SECOND WEEK OF ADVENT
This Christmas brings an invitation to meet God on a deeper level. God loves disguises, so takes the form of a tiny helpless baby at Bethlehem.
God comes to us from within, so that we might find the divine in this world of ours. Our poor Planet, even though we treat it so unkindly, will once again, as Isaiah prophesied, ‘bud forth a Saviour’. The Earth is in truth a Holy Place, every crumb of it, including ourselves. We live in a place and time of grace
And salvation comes to us from the inside out, So God emerges as human, just like us, that we may become divine.
The Christmas invitation is to find this hidden treasure,
To hear this silent music. Christmas comes alive when I listen to God whispering to me, ‘Let me tell you who you really are!
The secret is that you are my daughter, my son, my Beloved!’