Advent is a season of waiting. So we wait. We wait for the day when Jesus will set all things right. We wait for the day when love, mercy and justice will prevail. We wait for the day when the fruits of our faith will be manifest for all to see.
It is hard to wait. It is hard to see and feel the pain in this passing world. But it is precisely in this state of imperfect existence that we learn the most important lesson.
Compassion. The co-sharing of the passion of Christ. The mutual solidarity that comes with authentic love. In this holy season we reflect deeply on the coming of Jesus. On the meaning of his coming in our personal lives and into our broken world.
Jesus is the incarnation of Divine Compassion. His birth proclaims compassion. His words point us to compassion. His death reveals the overwhelming compassion and mercy of God. As we wait for the final coming of Jesus, we must learn compassion or we will perish in the selfish tide flooding our world.
Chiara Lubich, the Catholic foundress of the Focolare movement, says, "In order to achieve unity it is really necessary to keep present and love Jesus forsaken. . . . It is necessary to love him in a radical way as Paul did: 'I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified' (1 Corinthians 2.2)."
Each time I read these words they inspire me to be a compassionate person. We cannot fully understand the coming of Jesus unless we penetrate the mystery of the cross. Jesus forsaken and crucified reveals the heart of God in its most profound dimensions.
The cross is the doorway into the heart of God. It points us to the total transformation into the compassionate people we were created to be.
The last couple days have been difficult for me. I keep bumping into the reality of how far we all have to go. I keep accidentally screwing up. People react. I want to give them a "piece of my mind." But the Lord says, "Be an instrument of my compassion."
As I sit here typing these words I look up at a stark picture I have in my room. It is a picture of Jesus forsaken, abandoned and crucified. The only thing I can do is unite all I am experiencing with him. The only thing I can do is let all my life and all the misunderstandings be overshadowed by the mercy of the cross.
In this helpless but faith-filled position I find hope and meaning. I want to run from my pain and the pain of others but Jesus calls me to unite it all with his passion and death.
Again the words of Chiara Lubich point to the reality I am called to embrace: "Jesus crucified and forsaken really seems to be the God of our times: the divine answer to the abyss of trial and suffering deeply cut into the human heart by the atheism that pervades so much of modern culture; by the poverty of millions of deprived people; and by the quest for meaning and ideals by the disillusioned and confused new generation."
Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
When we meditate on Jesus forsaken in ourselves and others, it unites us. When we meditate on Jesus forsaken, our hearts soften and the Spirit of mercy can start to flow. This is why the saints taught that meditation on the passion of Jesus opens us to authentic compassion and mercy.
St. Faustina wrote in her diary the following inspiration from Jesus, "Proclaim to the whole world my unfathomable mercy. Do not be discouraged by the difficulties you encounter in proclaiming my mercy. These difficulties that affect you so painfully are evidence this work is mine."
So when Jesus says to us in this Sunday's Gospel, "Watch," he is speaking of seeing our world and the events now unfolding through the eyes of his compassion. He is speaking about carrying the hope of the coming of Jesus into every event in our lives and knowing that the resurrection will prevail.
A Christian is one who waits with the cross in view, always trusting that the cross leads to everlasting joy. One of my favourite songs by the singer Stephen Curtis Chapman says, "Out of these ashes beauty shall rise. And we will dance among the ruins. We will see it with our own eyes."
He wrote these words while reflecting on the death of his young daughter. His teenage son accidentally ran over her in the driveway while backing up. He and his family were obviously shattered. But he used his own pain to inspire others with music that speaks of the infinite, measureless compassion of God.
As I was listening to these words in the car with my kids, these lyrics overwhelmed me.
Out of these ashes beauty shall rise. Every difficulty and struggle will be overcome. Every person who hurts us can be forgiven. Everything we suffer can teach us compassion for the suffering of others. Nothing is wasted when it is united with Jesus and his passion.
So we wait for the Church to be revitalized and renewed. We wait for every injustice to be made right. We wait for all our sorrows to be turned to joy. We wait and allow Jesus forsaken and crucified to teach us compassion. We wait for Jesus has come, and he will come again.
Jesus teach us to see all people and events in the light of your cross and resurrection. May we become your living compassion in our world. Yes, Lord, we watch and wait and we know you will set all things right.