Today’s find: Entrance

Don’t know about you, but I was caught a bit flat-footed by the first Sunday of Advent.

Perhaps it’s because the Thanksgiving holiday (in the US) occurred a bit later than usual this year…which pushed the torrid commercialism of “Black Friday sales” right up against the beginning of the new liturgical year…

All bow down…

In any event, I found myself standing a bit slack-jawed this weekend – my heart and spirit thoroughly under-prepared to enter into the holy season of Advent.

Instead, my mind is racing in a hundred different directions – wondering how I’ll get revved up to meet a couple of work deadlines over the next couple of weeks…how my Sweetie and I will manage to get the shopping done…how we’ll tackle all those medical tests and doctors’ appointments…how we’ll get our house all tidied up and ready to receive family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Granted, my December schedule is positively tame compared to the “To-Do lists” many people attempt to tackle this time of year. Even so, I saw myself reflected in the portrait Jesus paints in today’s Gospel passage – the image of a people so preoccupied with life’s little details that…

…[t]hey did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.

Better to ‘stay awake,’ Jesus says. Better to ‘be prepared’ for the day on which the Lord will come.

But what does this mean, precisely – to ‘be prepared’? As I wrestled with the question today, I found myself being drawn to the model that Jesus himself offers, through his incarnation. In fact, I am filled with wonder at the very notion of this mystery: God, emptying himself of Godliness, to become an utterly dependent fetus…tucked away in the Blessed Mother’s womb.

Entering through the Door of Humility…

Jesus’ birth takes place in Bethlehem, of course – and if you go there to venerate the site, you’ll notice something odd about the entrance to the Basilica of the Nativity.

You have to duck to get in.

The small rectangular opening was built in Ottoman times, to prevent looting. And its size has an interesting side effect today: Even the most important visitor must bow down before entering this holy place.

Which is to say, we all must become more like Christ in order to fully appreciate this mystery.

We must work at emptying ourselves…at shedding our preoccupations…and at embracing stillness…in order to connect with every grace that Advent offers.

Preparing our hearts for every blessing of the Advent season.

Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.


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7 thoughts on “Today’s find: Entrance

  1. Mary Kopuster

    Bow to the beginning versus the end. All grace begins in humility. We bow to be raised up.
    The mystery of the incarnation…you said it well. Happy Humble Advent!

  2. Mary Heinsz

    And I remember the chaos and grandiosity that I felt in the Basilica of the Nativity! It was busy and rushed, noisy and chaotic, it even had a feel of irritation to me. Actually…much like the secular holiday season can be if we let it take over. But in reading your post, I do remember the small entrance, and it was you and John R. who pointed it out to us. It was peaceful to peer inside, it was humble. Advent is a joyful time of preparation for His coming, even in the midst of our chaos!

  3. rev h john reiker

    thanks john –i was just struck in prayer last evening by a quote from henri nouwen in genese diary: “advent does not lead to nervous tension … rather, it leads to a growing inner stillness and joy allowing me to realize that the One for whom i am waiting has already arrived and speaks to me in the silence of my heart. … it is a grace-filled time and God is close.” john r

    • Yes: the quiet…
      …the stillness of Advent… can indeed be a gift…

      Interesting…how so many forces in our culture are aligned against quiet … and stillness…

      • Mary Heinsz

        I think people are afraid of silence. They always feel like they need to “fill the gaps”, rather than rest in the silence.
        I was also struck by the fact that we were there during Lent, but I much prefer Advent!

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