Saturday - 2nd Week Of Advent - Year B - Matthew 17:10-13
3rd Sunday of Advent Year: B
Is 61.1-2a, 10-11; Lk 1; 1 Thess 5.16-24; Jn 1.6-8, 19-28
Carl Jung tells the story of a man who was seeing him for counseling. The man wanted an appointment at a particular time on a particular day. "I'm sorry," said Jung, "but I have an appointment at that time." When the two met together the next time, the client was furious. "You told me that you had an appointment on Tuesday. But I happened to see you. I know exactly where you were and what you were doing. You were sitting on the bank of the river, doing nothing other than dangling your toes in the water!" "That's right," said Jung. "It was my appointment with myself and I never break it!"
Appointment with oneself is important and in the same way appointment with God is also important in our life. God is dwelling in our heart. The more you go deeper, closer you come to God. Today we do not have time for that. Too much of the world enters, instead we allowing ourselves to be alone with God. Carl Jung was correct when he said that it was an important appointment.
Time for God and Time for Others
Third Sunday in Advent invites us to have time for God. Of course when guests come to our home, we give all the time to them, so that they do not get upset with the things that are new around them. In order to get to know God better, we need to give time to him. When we want to develop relationships with our friends, with our husband or wife, with our parents or with our children, we set aside time to do so. Indeed we talk about spending "quality time" with someone when we want to work on our relationship with them: that is, time spent with someone alone with no hidden agenda and no distractions. God wants to spend quality time with us, time when He has our undivided attention.
Mary and Martha
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Mary chose to spend time with Jesus and refused to be distracted; Martha chose not to spend time with Him. And Jesus said that Mary had chosen better. (Later, we see Mary express her devotion to Jesus in a most extravagant way, pouring a bottle of extremely expensive perfume over Him. Again, Jesus commends her action.) Jesus invites us to learn from Mary and spend time with Him as she did, letting Him change us by the encounter.
Being with God
How much do we value spending time with the Lord? Does the idea of being with Him fill us with expectation and joy as it did Mary? Given how incredibly wonderful God is, it is somewhat astonishing how little time many of us spend on deepening our relationship with Him. When a young man and woman are in love they are on in spirit. If we let God captivate our heart with His love, then we too will desire to be with Him above anything else, and we become one with him.
The gospel accounts record various occasions when Jesus Himself withdrew to places of solitude to spend time with His Father: Once, "very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Another time, "after he had dismissed the crowd, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone." Luke writes that "Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." If this was part of the rhythm of Jesus' life, how much more do we need to build it in to the rhythm of our lives too.
Are we willing to invest time in our relationship with God? Western ideals-filled society is so goal-oriented that we often find it hard enough for us to invest adequate time in developing deep human relationships, let alone in deepening our relationship with God. It seems ridiculous that we are so unwilling to invest more than an hour or so each week in meeting with God. The trouble is that giving time to just being with God, to just being in His presence, is in conflict with the values of the world we live in. Are we willing to 'waste time' in this way?
We may need to make some tough decisions to do this. Spending time with God is important - indeed it's of crucial importance to the way we live - but it never seems urgent. As a result we find it easy to postpone, delaying indefinitely until it never happens. But, the window of opportunity is now: "Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on Him while He is near", says Isaiah. We need to "seize the day" before the years pass away and God misses out on the best part of our lives. Why let slip the opportunity of having a close relationship with him now? Most of us will need to plan in order to give time to communion and fellowship with God. We need to make practical decisions about how we use our time. We should all arrange to have a regular companionship with God.
We should have a similar attitude about meeting regularly with God. It should be an unbreakable appointment.
God is unlikely to force us to spend time with Him (though sometimes He may let us go through a time of illness or unemployment to help us see what is important. Do we believe we're too busy to find time for this? Our society seems to honour busyness, but we need to decide whether we can afford not to plan time alone with God into our timetable. Some of us work long hours irrespective of any real need to do so and many of us pursue unnecessary goals (perhaps most obviously greater wealth and a higher 'standard of living'). Probably all of us spend time on things that are neither urgent nor important. How we spend our time shows what we value. We can't do everything. We have to choose. Are we choosing not to spend time with God, in favour of other activities? Or are we willing to sacrifice the unimportant, saying "no" to some of the demands we or others place on us, in order to give time to God? How much is our relationship with God really worth to us?
What this means in practice will vary widely according to our circumstances. For some, it may just be necessary to enter unbreakable appointments with God in a diary - and then keep those appointments. For others, it may be right to give up participation in Sunday outing in order to be able to attend church regularly. Others may decide that a change in employment is required. In pursuit of intimacy with the Lord, are we willing to reject the values of our culture? Are we willing to choose a lower 'standard of living' in order to pursue the higher 'quality of life' that we find as we live in close communion with our loving heavenly Father?
In addition to our regular daily and weekly times spent with God, it is also good to plan some more extended periods of time for the sole purpose of deepening our relationship with our Father. Structuring a short meditation on God every few months is likely to be one of the most profitable things we ever do. If we give a day or weekend totally over to meeting with God, the benefits are likely to far outweigh any 'sacrifice' we make. We may feel we are too busy to do something like this, but we have no problem finding time for holidays, or to spend with family and friends, or for pursuing our hobbies or making progress in our work. No, the most difficult problem is not in finding time but in deciding that it is important enough to find the time. If we truly love the Lord with every part of our being, it should be evident in our diaries and calendars!
Time given to the Lord in prayer can be enormously beneficial to ourselves as it impacts our health; physical, psychological and spiritual.
Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD
Vancouver - Canada
Friday - 2nd Week Of Advent - Year B - Matthew 11:16-19
Thursday - 2nd Week Of Advent - Year B - St. John of the Cross - Matthew 11:11-15
Wednesday - 2nd Week Of Advent - Year B - Matthew 11:28-30
Our Lady Of Guadalupe, Patron of Americas - Luke 1:39-47
Monday - 2nd Week Of Advent - Year B - Luke 5:17-26
2nd Sunday of Advent - Year B - Mark 1:1-8
Saturday - 1st Week Of Advent - Year B - Matthew 9:35 - 10:1;5a;6-8