4th Sunday of Advent      –       Awakening to the Sacred
We celebrate seasons like Advent and Lent as opportunities to delve more fully into the mystery of Jesus and his mission. The figures of Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary of Nazareth dominate the season of Advent. Mary is the great listener, the great receiver of God’s word. ‘Blessed rather are they who hear the word of God and keep it’, said Jesus when he heard someone acclaim his mother for being his mother – Luke 11, 27. During Advent we listen more deeply and sensitively with Mary for God’s Word.

Mary sat up and paid attention when the angel Gabriel said, ‘Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son…’ – Luke 1, 26-37. It’s one thing to hear something, quite another to listen and pay attention. We perk up and listen when we hear something that seems to make sense. And there are times when we fail to catch the note of urgency or anxiety in the voice of the person we are talking with. ‘You might be hearing me but you’re not listening to me,’ are words I’ve heard said to me a good few times!

Rowan Williams in his little book Being Disciples mentions that the mark of the disciple of Christ is alertness and attention to the word of God. How often have we heard the readings at Mass and afterwards wondered what it was we heard? On the other hand there have been times when a word or phrase seemed to leap out and get our attention. These are the moments when the Spirit of God might be giving us a wake up nudge. When Jesus changed water into wine at Cana ‘his disciples believed in him’ – John 2, 11. As they watched the action they were ‘nudged’, and acknowledged this man attracted their commitment.

‘We now recognise that creation is not merely a gift from God but also an expression of God…a word from God. Nature as a whole not only manifests God but is also a locus of his presence’ – Donal Dorr, A CREED FOR TODAY, p. 42-43. Nature, the Creator’s handiwork, offers a nudge to those who pay attention. Many of Mary Oliver’s poems see more in nature than meets the eye: ‘All afternoon I listened to the voices of the river talking. Whenever the water struck a stone it had something to say, and the water itself, and even the mosses trailing under the water. And slowly, very slowly, it came clear to me what they were saying…’ – From Mary Oliver’s poem, EVIDENCE. Advent calls us to a sense of the sacred in our midst.

Fr. QQ – 12/16/2020

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