JPIC News -- December 2014

The Longest Night, Waiting in the Darkness

Our Lutheran Brothers and Sisters invited our fraternity to participate in their “Longest Night” service last December. We are again invited on December 21st at 7:00 p.m. to Messiah Lutheran Church, Cape May Court House, to be with people who are not so very merry at Christmas, those who have lost a love one, those who have a child who is on drugs, whose marriage is on the rocks, those who can find little enthusiasm for the Charlie Brown Christmas Show or the endless Lifetime movies about having a happy ending by the end of the two hours with everyone coming over to the country house for hot chocolate and fresh chocolate chip cookies lighting up the TV screen like a Thomas Kincaide painting.

How true it is that we sometimes feel as though we are walking in the darkness, that we are far from home, far from where we want to be, estranged from family, This experience of night, feeling we are in a world soaked in darkness , has been experienced many times by many different peoples. Our Sacred Scriptures recount the Babylonian exile, the Jews oppressed by Pharaoh, the land of Palestine in Our Savior’ s time governed by the Romans.

More recently, another Jewish writer, Elie Weisel, chronicled his experiences at a concentration camp where, within days, he saw his whole family wiped out. He wrote “Where was God at Auschwitz? … Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed… never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. “

Later in the same text, Weisel describes the hanging of a child in the same camp. The people were clamoring “Where is God? For God’s sake, where is God? Then someone replies “Where is He?
This is where – hanging here from this gallows “.

The whole of Advent wrestles with these questions, the absence of God, the waiting for God, the coming of God. We share the psalmist‘s cry and echo the hymn’s refrain “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

The Gospel of John exclaims the mystery thus “And the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us. Footnotes in the New American Bible footnote explain the verse more clearly with “He pitched His Tent next to ours.” Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us.

This is the reason for our hope that Jesus came down from his heavenly throne and dwelt among us. Through our ministrations to others, being with the Poor and marginalized, we feel most deeply our connection to Francis. We recall the admonition of St. Francis that “The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these (good ) things and the Spirit will make a home and dwelling place in them. And they will be the children of the heavenly Father whose works they do. We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience and give Him birth through a holy activity which must shine before others by example.

Have a blessed Advent, remembering and living out not only the corporal but also the spiritual works of mercy especially the one … to comfort the sorrowful.

Kathleen Agosto, OFS,
JPIC Animator

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