Making way for the light


John the Baptist said: ‘There stands one among you whom you know not’.  We know that he refers to Jesus. John’s central role was to speak for the Light – to prepare the way for the Light – he whose sandals John felt unworthy to untie. John knew he was not the light and so his whole being was given over gladly to diminishment so that Christ who is Light, through whom the world had its being, can increase. 


An experience – taken from the Tablet 1998 reveals how a woman’s love for her husband becomes a light revealing the Light of Christ.  Two happily married doctors lived in China during one of the political movements in the Country.  She was a Catholic and he not.  She tried to convince him to become Catholic but he refused.  In the course of the political up rise he and several other intellectuals were arrested and sent to a labour camp.  This left the wife alone to work long hours at the hospital after which she had then to see to the needs of the child.  What made life difficult for her was the constant pressure from the Goverment that shedivorce her husband and renounce her religion. Although many women yielded to this demand she refused because she loved both her husband and her God too much.  Every evening she and her son would prayfor her husband and for themto be granted the strength to cope with the suffering of the time. 


Towards the end of the 1970’s she heard that her husband and the others had been released and she and her son went to the station to await his arrival.  To her astonishment she was the only family to be on the platform.  The other women, unable to endure the long separation and the constant pressure from the Government divorced and remarried.  The husband saw the empty platform but how his face lit up with joy when he saw the lone figure of his son and wife.  He realised the sacrifices she had made for him and considering this he saw the light.  It was not her words that changed him, it was the light of love and commitment radiating from her that reached his heart and he found the ‘one standing among us whom he did not know’.


We search for God and for Jesus in many ways and in many places. We look for God in dramatic ways - like healing from a terminal illness, great feelings of awe and peace, in people who seem to be prophetic, in something exceptional. But God is our God of the everyday living. We meet Christ in the people we encounter, in our simple prayer and longings, in our courageous endurance and in our caring for the world. Our awareness is a quiet, non-dramatic and gentle awareness that God is truly in our midst – in and around us.  Are we quiet enough to recognise this presence, this Light?


Like John we are asked to make way for the Light and Advent calls us to make what difference we can.  Look at ourselves first and work quietly on the darkness that hides within us – the selfishness, the unforgiveness and the lack of love that keep the light of the good news from so many people. Where larger issues like justice and peace are concerned we are called to work together.


Remember, advent is a time to look forward to the blessing of love, forgiveness and reconciliation that result from the coming of the son of God and the Son of Mary into the world. The more we focus on this, the less power darkness has over us and the more joy we will know when we celebrate the birthday of Jesus.

 Sr Sylvia OP

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