By SISTER JODI CRETEN, Commentary | Published December 22, 2011
While Advent is a time to anticipate the Second Coming of Christ, the words that constantly spring up in my heart when this wonderful Church season rolls around each year are: “Stay awake! Be on guard! Be watchful!” I find my antennae at full mast!
The founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Father John Paul Medaille, SJ, was forever reminding his sisters through his words that echo down through the ages, to be alert to where God is so present in the everyday events of our lives. He comes, he resides, but am I “seeing” His presence? That takes solitude, contemplation, deep prayer and practice to recognize the Jesus who comes.
He is in the obvious, and the not so obvious. He tells us to look within the harsh words spoken by another. What is in the depth of the situation before me? Is there pain that needs healing? Will my simple words or a glance of recognition be the Jesus’ touch a person just might need at this moment of our encounter? Am I in need of reconciliation, and will another be the heart of Jesus coming to heal? Will I be ready to be healed?
Will I find Jesus in the child who sits in my classroom, seemingly puzzled by the complexity of a math problem, but who really just needs a gentle word of encouragement? Can I find His presence in the gorgeous sunset painted across the evening sky or in the washing tide at evening’s end? Will I find Him in the eyes of the homeless man, woman or child in need of tenderness and care in this unstable economy? Will I find Him in the person who comes to me for spiritual direction where heart can meet heart and direction can be given? Opportunities abound for each of us to find Jesus who comes so fully into our midst each moment of every day.
I minister with many different persons through Home Instead Senior Care, and every morning before I go “to work” I ask God for the grace of being open to His presence, and when evening ends I know I have been graced beyond measure! Last week I was with a client in the grocery store. He knows no stranger, and each person we met, he greeted. When he found someone who wasn’t smiling, he stopped to say a few more words. One woman made a comment to him, and his quick response made her laugh so heartily that others in the store looked up to see what was going on! Soon they too were caught up in the lightness of the moment. Jesus came in the ordinary, using one of His instruments of peace!
It can be difficult to enter into the spirit of Advent because we are pulled into the hustle and bustle of the spending frenzy of a commercial season intent on distraction. But attention to what is essential calls for moments of quiet and solitude so that we can recognize the Jesus who comes in the everyday events of our lives. These encounters, when we contemplate their meaning, they ready us, as we wait in joyful anticipation of His Second Coming. “Come Lord Jesus, Come!”
Sister Jodi Creten is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kansas.