Advent 2011: Live Anew

For you shall be comforted!

The world doesn’t work the way it should. Freak accidents ruin our plans; the greatest passions dwindle to boredom; our best friends annoy us; death snatches our loved ones and they are gone. Conflict is built into the structure of the world—we are not even at peace with ourselves. The sin of Adam has shaken the earth, and nothing is stable anymore.

Sin causes us pain because it doesn’t belong. God made the world good, free from sin and death. But when Adam and Eve rejected God’s love and chose to create their own path to happiness, they lost the special gifts of closeness to God that they had enjoyed, and the earth became a place of struggle and pain.

But sin is not the last word about us. Our hearts still long for God, and he gives us his grace that we might be lifted out of our sin and filled with the very presence of the Divine Trinity. This is our hope—that God did not make us for death, but for life eternal as his adopted sons and daughters. Jesus came to earth for this purpose, and he will come again to bring this work to completion.

God calls us to hope for a goodness that we often can’t see, that will be fulfilled only in the world to come. In Advent especially we realize that the longing for heaven can itself be a kind of pain, because we see the brokenness of the world and the brokenness of our own hearts, caused by the blows of sin, and we yearn for the wholeness of Christ.

Christ offers us this holy longing in the second beatitude: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Left to our own devices, we mourn selfishly, sinking into self-pity whenever something of ours—a relationship, a piece of property, even a comfortable lie—is taken away from us. By God’s grace, we long for his presence and mourn what separates us from him, hoping to be made more like him; we mourn our sins and those of the world because we long for Christ to come again and bring us the comfort of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Today’s meditation: Reflect on Jesus’ mercy. Offer God one of your selfish desires and ask him to take it away.