It is amazing how so often in our lives we are open to only what we want to hear; we only see our own perspective and are perhaps oblivious to what else is going on around us. In the Gospel today, we are told a parable in which the people only hear what they want to hear. The children play music for dancing, the others did not join in the dance; they play laments and dirges for mourning, but the others did not join in their wailing & their cries of anguish. There is a time for everything in the Lord. Our lives go in cycles. Sometimes we experience wonderful, joyful times in our lives, and at other times, there is extreme pain or sadness.
We are in the midst of the Advent season, a time of waiting & preparation. Yet, we live in a society of instant gratification & pleasure, where we don’t want to wait, where we get impatient if we need a lot of time for preparation. Yet, Advent is a time where we are called to repent, to wait, & to examine what it going on in our hearts and in our lives of faith. Sometimes, that is not easy to do since our restlessness and our impatience can get the best of us. While most of our society is already celebrating Christmas, we wait and we prepare.
Today, we celebrate St John of the Cross, a very beloved saint in our Church who led a very difficult life. John lived in the last half of the 16th century in Spain in a very difficult time in the life of our Church, when the faithful were dealing with the consequences of the Protestant Reformation and when the Spanish Inquisition was deciding who was being true to the faith. John of the Cross and his mentor, Teresa of Avila, were Carmelites who both tried to reform their order. They wanted to bring the Carmelites back to the humble roots of their monastic tradition. Yet, at this time in history, the Church was very suspicious of any efforts at reform. Ultimately, John of the Cross was persecuted and jailed by his own order of monks for his attempts at reform. He died during his incarceration. Yet, today, the Church is able to recognize the genius of this saint – he is now a Doctor of the Church & he is considered one of the greatest poets of the Spanish language. As I mention, John is very beloved by many of the faithful, and I in particular have a great devotion to him. I am fascinated by the way he expresses his love for God in such a mystical way, how he unites his sufferings & burdens with the sufferings that Jesus endured. John once said: “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes & walk in the dark.”
As we celebrate this wonderful Advent season, as we prepare and wait, let us ask for the intercessions of John of the Cross and all the saints to accompany us during this holy season.