He is here- Welcome him
Once again the beautiful season of Advent is here with its invitation – an invitation ancient and ever new, namely, welcome Christ, for he is here. Even as Advent speaks about His second coming, it’s all about his presence here and now. Or rather, the doctrine of Christ’s second coming should be understood as His coming into our midst everyday of our lives. It’s just a matter of recognizing Him in the people and events around us. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize him as he come in distorted, disfigured, disguised and diminished ways. Pope Francis recently recognized Christ in the 53-year old Vinicio who suffers from type 1 neurofibromatosis – the disease that has disfigured him beyond recognition. The Pope stroked his (His) head and wounds. The Pontiff’s arms were around him (Him) squeezing His hand and kissing His face. Vinicio says, “I felt only love”. It’s a difficult act to emulate. And yet the season of Advent demands nothing less than that.
In his book Night, Elie Wiesel describes his experience as a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp. He tells of seeing a young boy hanged. Because of his small size, he did not die right away. He hung on that rope in sheer agony for nearly thirty minutes. As the other prisoners watched in horror, someone muttered, “Where is God now?” Wiesel says that at that point he heard a voice within himself reply, “Where is He? Here
He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.” Among many other ways, I recognized Him yesterday in Teddy, Grace Semana and their daughter Alexis, who are longtime parishioners of ours. They were weeping and lost for words. Day before yesterday their 15-year old son, Justin breathed his last. When he started playing basketball that day: who knew it was going to be his last game and last day in this world? He collapsed and died soon. Christ’s presence in them and in the meeting room was so evident. Often times, His presence is suppressed by intense hardship, pain, many doubts and questions. So many things in life will fail and get out of our control but Christ is always there. He carries our disappointments. When we are downhearted and think we can’t go on, He carries us in His loving arms.
He is here with us even in our hardships and struggles not with answers but with His presence. Welcome Him.
Have a Blessed Advent season!
-Fr. Abe