The news of 20 children and 6 adults whose lives were ended all too soon in an elementary school in Connecticut make it difficult to put words on paper right now. The dashed hopes and fears of children and parents are more than we can process; It’s tempting to turn away to shield ourselves from the horror.
“How many things have we become used to in the course of the years, of the weeks, and months so that we stand un-shocked, unstirred and inwardly unmoved? Advent is a time when we ought to be shaken and brought to a realization of ourselves.” So wrote Alfred Delp, a Jesuit priest, awaiting execution for being accused a traitor by the Nazis in 1945. Then, the great Advent question is when do we awake from our sleep and complacency?
The tragic events of the last 2 months make it clear that we are unable to muddle through alone. It’s no secret that we find it necessary to turn to one another. Isn’t this what God wants for us? In many ways we, like the virgin, nurture our fertile soil as we absorb our pain and suffering and that of those around us, and give birth to Christ as we share his love with one another.
Henri Nouwen writes that Elizabeth and Mary, as models for the Christian community, were filled with hope. Hope is trusting that something will be fulfilled but fulfilled according to His will and not according to our wishes. The Christian community is the place where we keep that hope alive among us. He tells us that we need to wait together like Elizabeth and Mary to be present to one another; to keep each other at home spiritually so that when the Word comes it can become flesh and have a whole new life in us.
Perhaps the words of David Steindl-Rast make it possible to understand how what began in Bethlehem two thousand years ago can apply to today’s recent tragic events: “By focusing our human efforts on cultivating tender connections and caring relationships we can give birth to a world conceived by the Holy Ghost.”
Our readings are in Luke 1:39-45(46-55)