Advent waiting

A brother brings into my room a reproduction of one of the most ancient pictures in the catacombs:  a man praying with both hands raised.  This gesture comes down to us from the dawn of time, from humankind’s first beginnings.  A symbol of expectant waiting.  Looking at it, I tell myself:  like every Christian, you are first and foremost a man who waits expectantly, and prayer is one of the clearest symbols of this.

Br. Roger of Taize

Leo Tolstoy (8-28-1828 to 11-20-1910)

I admit that I am guilty, and vile, and worthy of contempt for failing to carry out Christ’s teaching.  At the same time, not to justify myself, but simply to explain my lack of consistency, I say:  “Look at my life now and compare it to my former life.  You will see that I am trying to live out the truth I proclaim.  True, I have not fulfilled a fraction of Christ’s will, and I am ashamed of this, but I have failed to fulfill his Word not because I do not wish to, but because I have been unable to.  Teach me how to escape from the net of temptations that surrounds me, help me, and I will fulfill Christ’s teachings.  Even without help I wish and hope to fulfill them.  Attack me, I do this myself, but attach me rather than the path I follow, which I point out to anyone who asks me where I think it lies.  If I know the way home and am walking along it drunkenly, is it any less the right way simply because I am staggering side to side?

“If it is not the right way, then show me another way.  But if I stagger and lose the way, you must help me and keep me on the true path, just as I am ready to support you.  Do not mislead me, do not be glad that I have gotten lost, do not gleefully shout, ‘Look at him!  He said he was going home, but there he is crawling into a bog!’  No, do not gloat, but give me your help and support.  For you are not devils in the swamp, but people like me who are seeking the way home.  For I am alone and it cannot be that I wish to go into the swamp.  Help me, my heart is breaking in despair that we have all lost our way.”

So this is my attitude to Christ’s teaching.  I try to fulfill it with all I’ve got.  I not only repent for each failure, but also beg for help in fulfilling it.  And I joyfully welcome anyone who, like me, is looking for the path; and I listen to him.

Lincoln’s Log

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the Lord of hosts.  But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.
Mal. 3: 19-20a
During the month of November, our minds naturally turn to thoughts of harvest and of death.  The days are very short.  Light is scarce.  Darkness seems to be closing in all around.  Leaves lie on the ground, raked in piles, or burned.   The last of the fall harvest is being brought in.  Hunting season is here as animals are harvested for food.  We are preparing.  We know that the long, cold winter is not far off, whether we are ready or not.  The year is ending.  The year is dying.  It is harvest time.
This is also the time when the church puts before us readings of judgment.  We know that at the end of our lives we will be harvested.  At the end of time, all of creation will be harvested.  The fruits will be gathered together like a pile of leaves.  Much of the fruit is rotten and will be reduced to stubble, as our reading from Malachi promises.  But we also know that through the death of Jesus, we will rise to new life.  The sun of justice will arise.  Healing will come.  God’s promise will be fulfilled and it is not a promise only of woe, but a promise of new life and resurrection.
As the cold of winter death approaches.  Let’s keep our eyes fixed on the sun of justice with its healing rays.  The fire of judgment leads to the light of justice.  Christ’s light has conquered the darkness.

Living Water

Christ shows us the way to life, and those who embark on this way are like a fountain of living water bubbling forth from the earth, which steadily moves in all directions in spite of the obstacles blocking it.  One who follows Christ’s way can just as little ask what he must positively do as the spring of water flowing from the earth can ask such a question.  It flows, refreshing the soil, the earth, the trees, the birds, the animals, and people.  The same is true for the one who genuinely believes in Christ.

Leo Tolstoy