“A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord, make His paths straight”
– Luke 3:4
How do we prepare for the coming of the birth of Jesus in these most unusual and challenging times? We wrestle with many issues today: how to welcome and be hospitable to immigrants; how to respond to the climate crisis; how to counteract racial injustice; and how to stay safe in the midst of the pandemic.
At times I feel like I am in the wilderness and do not know how to respond to these challenges. I often feel overwhelmed with so much turmoil, and I question what God is asking of me. Since I am 84 years old, I need to be careful in my social interactions outside of Ryken House, our Brothers’ retirement home in Louisville. Giving of myself through volunteering or even socializing with family and friends is not possible.
In attempting to answer the question on how to prepare, I am drawn to a quote from our Xaverian Brothers ‘Fundamental Principles’:
“If you allow yourself to be formed by God through the common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life, you will gradually experience a liberation and a freedom never before imagined.”
How then does that translate into practice? I am informing myself through reading and also spending more time reflecting and praying. Books I have recently enjoyed such as Bryan Massingale’s ‘Racial Injustice’ have helped me see how I have been the recipient of white privilege. In my personal contacts with the eleven Brothers I live with and through phone calls and email correspondence, I can practice compassion by listening and encouraging others, especially those who may be living alone. Attentive listening is a real gift we can give to others. I can dialogue with others concerning the major challenges Pope Francis is advocating.
The Pope is calling us to encounter our neighbor by sincerely listening to others, especially those with whom we disagree. I can do this, but it takes practice. I can also share with others that Pope Francis is calling us to become one world, and that is only possible if we begin to treat everyone as our neighbor, and that means everyone.
Perhaps this Advent can be a special time for all of us as we attempt to follow the wisdom of our founder, Theodore James Ryken. As our ‘Fundamental Principles’ remind us: “Yet, like Ryken, foster an attitude of openness to the needs of the Church and our world and a willingness to follow Christ wherever He leads. We are called to a life of constant searching.”
What ways are you preparing for the birth of Jesus? Do you see what we are now experiencing as an opportunity to reflect on and act on your priorities so that something new can come to fruition out of struggle? If so, reflect on what those priorities might be.
Gracious and loving God, I pray for patience during these challenging times. Like John the Baptist, give me the courage to proclaim by the way I am living and loving the message of peace, justice, and love.
Brother Cornelius Hubbuch
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