Saturday, December 5, 2015
A lot of jumbled thoughts and experiences from the past three days are tumbling around inside me.
Yesterday, Friday, I visited an elderly woman cancer patient in the hospital, then I made plans to concelebrate the wedding Saturday afternoon of a young man I’ve known all his life, and after that I received the joyful news that I have a brand new grand-nephew named Alexander.
Thursday, during a scheduled 45 minutes with our postulant, he and I discussed and journalled about a couple of “questions from life,” from Stages of Faith by James Fowler. The one we decided to journal on was this: “What goals, dreams or institutions are you pouring out your life for?”
My own response to that fundamental question had to do with the fact that in my senior years I no longer see myself as pouring out my life for our school or for our monastic community. These are no longer driving my life very much. In brief, I wrote that I’d like to think that it’s “God” that is in the forefront now.
“What goals, dreams or institutions are you pouring out your life for?” The question assumes that I am indeed pouring out my life for something. It’s also the language of passion, isn’t it? Whether the passion of a suicide bomber, or of a Missionary of Charity working with dying street people in Calcutta, or of young Matt who’s getting married to Amanda this afternoon, or of my niece and her husband pouring out their lives for baby Alexander.
Friday I read about those two poor souls in San Bernardino California, who had filled their apartment with hundreds of pounds of explosives and a dozen pipe bombs. I’d have liked to ask them, “What goals, dreams or institutions are you pouring out your life for?”
I listened to the news on the radio yesterday about the thousands of refugees overwhelming Europe as they flee the hotspots of oppression and persecution around the world. I think I can guess the answer that many of these desperate victims might give if they were asked “What goals, dreams or institutions are you pouring out your life for?”
And what about the thousands of members of ISIS, or the young people who blow themselves to pieces in crowded marketplaces? I asked myself If we really know what kinds of answers they would give to the question?
During this morning’s meditation, I asked myself how this question might fit into the First Week of Advent. Well, actually it turns out to be a good fit. The lectionary readings at mass this past week have stressed not so much the idea if the coming of the future messiah, but the fact that the Kingdom is already here, in our midst today. And we Christians are challenged to “pour out our lives” to make the Kingdom more and more a reality.
It seems to me that with the imagery of “the KIngdom of God,” whether present or future, the Church is giving direction to our drives and desires, giving them a name. And in the gospel we find the content of the Kingdom in such ideas as self-giving love (in imitation of Jesus), boundless and unconditional love (in imitation of our heavenly father), and loving service to others (such as “washing the feet” of needy people).
It’s our job as Christians to pour out our lives to make the Kingdom present on earth, here and now. What about you? During this Advent season, what goals, dreams or institutions are you pouring out your life for?