Immersed in Christ: December 5, 2020
Saturday of the First Week of Advent
Praise God for Being Visible
“Blessed are all who wait for the Lord”
“At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Seeing with our own eyes makes a difference. Jesus already knew his people needed him. But “at the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity.” Seeing made a difference.
It makes a difference to us too when we can see the God we are speaking to. Isaiah promises in the reading:
He will be gracious to you when you cry out,
as soon as he hears he will answer you…
But often it doesn’t seem that way. We pray and nothing happens; nothing we can see, at least. We believe, but we can’t help wondering whether God is listening. But Isaiah continues:
No longer will your Teacher hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
While from behind, a voice shall sound in your ears:
“This is the way; walk in it.”
This has become literally true. All we have to do is go to where the Eucharist is. We can go to Mass and take the Body of Christ into our hands at Communion. Then we see Jesus present to us. We are looking at him, holding him. When we pray to him then, there is no doubt he hears, any more than if we were standing before his human body present to us in Galilee, Nazareth or Bethlehem.
We couldn’t get an appointment with the President or the Pope. We can write letters, and send emails, but we have no assurance either will actually see them. And we would not expect more than a form letter in acknowledgment, sent out automatically by some secretary.
If we address prayers to God, it feels the same. Except we don’t even get an acknowledgment. We know by faith that God hears but it just feels like he is remote.
With Jesus, however, we can have an appointment any time we want. We can show up where he is visibly, physically present in the Eucharist, and we can talk to him. And we can see with our own eyes that he is right there. Yes, faith is required, but it is faith in something, in someone, we are seeing with our own eyes.
Yes, it would be nice if we could hear him answer in audible words. But that doesn’t usually happen. What we do hear, however—with our mind, not our ears—is “a voice from behind us” saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
It is the Holy Spirit, or Jesus himself, speaking from within us, giving the only answer we actually need to hear: “This is the way; walk in it.” Whether we are worried, afflicted, confused, praying for ourselves or for others, the only response to our prayer that we really need is one that tells us how we ourselves should respond. That answer is always given: “This is the way; walk in it.” We can leave the rest to God.
DAILY PRACTICE: Be aware. Each day during Advent, praise God for what we all await: the “advent”—the “arrival” and “manifestation” of “ the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, quoted in the Rite of Communion at Mass).
ADVENT PRAYER: “Praise the Lord, for he is good.”