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REFLECTION – ADVENT 2022

We begin the season of Advent this weekend. The word “advent” comes from the Latin “adventus” meaning “to come”. The Holy One of God – Jesus – came in human form as a wondrous being, blessing our lives and our earth with his presence over 2000 years ago. Jesus described himself as a door to the Divine. Through his humanity he became a doorway for communication with God. I love to admire doors on houses, especially on old cottages and ancient buildings. When walking along city streets on holidays I will stop and admire the doors. Likewise in Abbeys and Monasteries. Doors are beautiful when carved by hand. I recall once driving through the heartland of France with a friend on a long winding, quiet country road, on either side of which were long tall trees, providing an archway and shelter. Suddenly in the distance we saw a church spire. The roadway literally brought us to the doorway of the church as if this was the end of the journey. 

Through this doorway beauty awaited us – the statues, the paintings on the walls, old and ancient, the Stations of the Cross sculpted in stone, the kneelers carved by hand, the altar adorned with flowers. The ornate sanctuary lamps shone a light in this quiet space. The doors of this ancient church ushered us into a prayerful place where we absorbed its magnificence. Someone once said, “Every doorway, every intersection has a story.” How true for us as we entered the doorway of this ancient church.

Advent is a time for opening doors. It’s a time to deepen and strengthen our relationship with God, so that more of his “divine presence” shines through our lives. It is a season to open the doors of our hearts so that we can both receive and give God’s love, given to us. Each of us has a sacred door. In his iconic painting based on Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand and knock..”,  Warner Sallman has Jesus stand at a door and knocks. It is the door of the human heart to which Jesus comes and awaits an invitation to enter. Sallman knowingly omitted the door handle on the outside, believing that the door to the heart can only be opened from within. We hold the power of welcome or refusal. It is our choice. The image of the doorway in scripture encourages us to be aware of the moments when we can allow Jesus into our hearts. In any relationship readiness to open our hearts (in trust) is essential for a meeting of minds and hearts to occur. Likewise with God. Our readiness to open the doorway of our hearts is the beginning of a new encounter. Advent calls us to this kind of attentive living. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter and dine with you and you with me.” (Revelation:3:20).

We are living through some very difficult times. We are experiencing hardships and struggles in our lives, financially. Many people at this time of year are in desparation because of expectations which they cannot fulfil. Charities working with homeless people are inundated with calls for help. Many people suffer in silence, memories of the past surfacing to cause deep, inner pain. We all yearn for a love which will sustain us, a love which lifts us up and enables us to find hope, light and strength. Advent invites us to open the door of our hearts to allow God in a little bit more. In the busyness of the lead up to Christmas, let’s evaluate the things that really matter, the things of the heart, of God within us. Let us open the door of our heart to God in Jesus.    Fr. Tony.