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Spiritual Life

Christ’s coming is found in the midst of our daily lives

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8.12

On an almost daily basis, we experience disappointments.  Some things in life just don’t meet our expectations.  Our car doesn’t start.  Our computer doesn’t cooperate.  Our friends or family members aren’t there when we need them.  The weather disrupts our plans.  Our favorite sports teams let us down.  Most of the time, we learn how to cope with these daily inconveniences.

On a deeper level, there comes a time in almost everyone’s life when a person wonders whether all the hard work and all the commitments are worth anything.  Are you really making any difference in the world?  Have you done with your life what you had hoped?  Are you missing out on opportunities that you may have passed by?

That seems to be John the Baptist’s frame of mind in the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent.  As he pondered his life in prison, John sent a delegation of disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?”

Jesus’ response was to point out what was happening through his ministry.  People who could not previously do so are now seeing, walking, hearing and speaking.  Life is being restored where there was death.  Poor people are heartened with good news.  All the soil so carefully tilled and tended by John is bearing the long-awaited fruit.  The message Jesus sends to John and to us is that the power of Christ’s coming is found not in the sound and fury of battle but in the changes within human hearts and lives with restoration and healing.

We will not see the power of Christ’s coming at Christmas in the brightness of our lights, the glitter of our decorations, the sounds of our choirs, the size of our trees or the number of our gifts.  The power of Christ’s coming is shown in his simple, unobtrusive entrance into human history to dwell there as a source of compassion, healing, strength, faith and redemption.  The real miracles of the Messiah occur every day around us within human hearts and in our actions of love, peace, and graciousness.

No matter what we may be feeling today, the Advent invitation is to stand firm in faith, in patience, in mutual support.  Jesus is coming.  Open your eyes and see.  It can be easy at times to overlook the many small ways that Jesus is already working in our lives.  Perhaps all we need is a little more trust that God is on our side, and that He will never abandon us.  Just as Jesus invited John’s disciples to look more closely at what was happening all around them, so he may be asking us to look for the signs of his presence and power right here, right now, in the midst of our daily lives.

Father Dennis Hanneman is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

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