My view of the world through words & photos
Nearly 22 years ago, I asked my then boyfriend to attend Mass with me during the four Sundays of Advent. Our relationship had become more serious during the last few months. In fact, he was planning on spending the Christmas holiday with me at my family’s home. Because of that, I wanted him to know what Christmas meant to me. Since he was not active in his faith (by which I mean he didn’t attend worship services every week or even on holy days) I wanted to make sure he understood that to me, Christmas was more than a day for exchanging presents. I told him that the four Sundays of Advent would help him understand the historical and religious basis for Christmas from my perspective.
So each Sunday, for the first three Sundays, we met at my church and attended Mass together. He followed the readings in the missal so he would have a clear understanding of what was being said before the priest shared his homily with us. On the fourth Sunday of Advent, we attended Mass with my family. For years I had attended Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and this year was no different. Before we went home, we attended the Mass of the Holy Family.
Once we were back home, I had no expectations of him regarding his attendance at Mass. And yet, when I arrived at Mass the next Sunday, he was there. He was there the following Sunday, also. During that Mass, I sensed that something different was happening. Since I didn’t want to assume anything, after brunch I asked him if he had been OK during Mass that morning.
I was stunned. While I had never asked for him to convert to my faith, this apparently was what had happened during the last several months. During the next two decades his faith life continued to grow, as did mine, as he continued his journey into a deeper understanding of Faith, God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
While this is the second year I am making the Advent journey since his death, it seems to be the first year that I am more aware of what life is without him. (Apparently, I was in some sort of fog or shock last year since most of the major holidays arrived shortly after his death.)
During Mass this morning, two sections struck me as I listened to today’s readings. The first was from Isaiah (11:1-10):On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
The second was from Matthew (3:1-3):John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
I reflected back to that time so many years ago when I heard these traditional readings with new ears as I sat next to the man I loved, who was hearing them in this context for the first time.
So, it seems my spiritual journey forward this Advent will also be a journey back. I’m going to challenge myself to really listen to these readings with new ears again – to listen as if it is for the first time. I pray that I feel that joy and wonder that my husband felt when he listened to these words – these words that helped open his heart to Jesus – the fulfillment of God’s promise to all of us.