The world is a country which nobody ever knew by description, “One must travel through it one's self to be acquainted with it". So wrote Philip Stanhope many centuries ago. We are told today that unless we discover the Advent world within ourselves, it will have no life giving meaning for us. The people, places and events are not meant to be just words, they describe a reality within each one of us, at this time. As we gaze on the crib, it will have no real meaning until I come to discover this outer reality, is alive and living within myself. We ask for the gift that on Christmas when we view the crib in our "little churches of the home", and in the gathering of these communities of faith, a real encounter will take place.
Encounter in not just about a fleeting, casual meeting. Like passing someone in the corridor, or at this time of year in the mall. In an encounter we have in an in depth meeting with another reality. Some part of our deepest reality really meets some part of that persons deep reality. The result of this meeting is change. If there is no change then there is no change, there has been no real encounter. The change will not be of our choosing. Yes! We will not choose the change. Each encounter is Holy and Sacred. As reality meets reality. The Divine Encounter, the divine. The result cannot be controlled by us. It is beyond our power, however we try. We have to surrender to the gift resulting from the encounter. All of this demands, real presence. Why? Because we are dealing with REAL PRESENCE. Real Presence is only present in honest living. This is so frightening for us and as a result we have so few real encounters in our lives. We, then, live lives that are meaningless, lonely, and seemingly without value. Yet, we have within us that which all the wealth of this world cannot buy. What then are riches hidden deep within? Each person has to make their own unique journey of discovery. This will happen as we freely choose to respond to the particular grace of this season. We will be led to a new awareness to what really is of value. This "great treasure", which is beyond earthly value, has been given , has been entrusted to us. To make this "pearl of great price” even more worthwhile, it is enhanced each and every moment we live. This make s the inner journey, however painful, so rewarding. I like the following quotes; “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures". Thornton Wilder. “Uninterpreted truth is as useless as buried treasure.” L. Strachey.
During this Season of Advent, let us get in touch then, with the LIVING Crib, present within each one of us. This is indeed "buried treasure". This is a very fruitful spiritual exercise. It allows us to personalize the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany scriptures . That which is alive within us will come to discover it's outward expression each time we see a crib scene. What a spiritual explosion? That is why this time of year is looked on as a time of special grace. Some describe it as a constant wave of grace washing over our hearts, souls, and minds. This "washing over” results in new awareness. New insights, triggering new challenges resulting in new commitments. Gives new meaning to New Year's resolutions??? We will find ourselves making commitments to something more than just losing weight. The result of this action will reveal to us what has happened because we choose to allow the encounter to take place. “We live our lives looking forward, but understand it looking back."
So far on this Advent we have begun to see that this is a season, it is a time, within which demands that we be alert for the approach, and the appearance of The Divine. A Divinity that cannot be controlled, or programmed. This Mystery cannot be solved by our present finite, human minds, so what is asked of us is that we develop reverence. Reverence for The Mystery revealed to humanity, through The Human Person. This reveals to us how our God sees us as we make our dwelling within within humanity. He has joined as a human being to transform all life into the place of encounter, with the Divine. He knows well the workings of the human heart, and how fearful we can be, He made allowance for that. So as not to threaten us, He appeared, clothed in the vulnerability of a baby. When He appeared as a baby he was a threat to those in power, not to the powerless. We do not see any local people of power at, or in the crib scene. These leaders of church and state had the knowledge, but not the wisdom to seek out The Child, the newest, and the best revelation of who their God really was. Let us ask then for the gift of wonder, so we can see beyond that which is ordinary to the new, ongoing revelation of our "vulnerable God". As He came once in human form, He has now chosen each person to continue The Incarnation. In each person the mystery continues to be revealed anew. With this in mind, always believe, where you stand, is a holy place. The God dwelling within your presence makes it so. St. Francis went so far as to say, "Everything that is, is to be adored". Strength and blessings for the journey, from a wanderer.