By Maria Covarrubias
Have you ever been in a dark room? Were you able to move and walk around with the same confidence you do when there is light? What were your feelings?
For most people, darkness brings fear, anxiety and uncertainty. In darkness, we lose the sense of direction, the clarity of sight and many times we become paralyzed. But what happens when the light is turned on? Darkness vanished! We can see, walk, and move confidently, able to see where we are going without fear of falling or tripping.
Recently, I was listening to one of the daily reflections on the readings of the day and the speaker pointed out that most times we become aware of the darkness around us, the sinfulness of others and our own. He added: focusing only on the darkness might cause us to miss the many signs of grace around us.
This year has been a year of special blessings for all of us. We have celebrated an Extraordinary Jubilee of God’s Mercy! A Holy year! It began in the celebration of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2015, and culminates on November 20, 2016, on the Feast Day of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Nations! A jubilee has its origins in Judaism, and Christianity finds its first expression at the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Jubilee means joy! Each jubilee was a sabbatical year in which everyone rested, slaves were set free, the land was not tilled, and possessions that had been purchased were returned.
The Extraordinary Jubilee of the Year of Mercy is about to end, but its meaning and application to our lives continues. Each of us is called to forgive, accept and integrate those members of our families who are distant, resentful, who hold grudges, who have hatred in their hearts due to damaged family relationships. During a jubilee year the land was left to rest. For us, this speaks of allowing the land of our heart to rest, encountering the mystery and grace of God in our daily life so that we develop the virtues of love, charity, solidarity, fraternity, unity and hospitality. Something else important that happened during a jubilee was that all properties that had been removed were returned. Today for us, this means restoring the dignity of others and in some cases restoring our dignity, assuring a place within the family, welcoming the stranger, helping those in need and those most vulnerable. There is great need for forgiveness and reconciliation in the world, house by house and family by family.
These same themes keep speaking to us during Advent. In preparation for Christmas, we are called to repentance, to forgive, to share time, talent and treasure and to celebrate. The seasons of Advent and Christmas remind us that we need to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the center of our faith the one who humbly gave His own life for our sake. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Psalm 26 begins “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” This is a metaphor for common benefit, protection or favor from God that also means salvation, defense and aid. The words of this Psalm are marked by a great serenity founded on trusting God. Advent offers a wonderful opportunity to encounter the Lord Jesus as the only Light, the only star, the only guide. Let us live this Advent season with this expectation, celebrating with joy the triumph of love!
Maria Covarrubias is the Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry for the Diocese.