Monday, December 21, 2009

Speechless in amazement and awe.

Delayed by a day on account of the demands of calculating and submitting fall grades - a task that I finished late last night - this is the last in a series of posts reflecting on the Sundays of Advent with the help of Father Alfred Delp's Prison Meditations. For the Fourth (and final) Sunday of Advent, Father Delp considers the themes of "binding and loosing" that are constitutive both of our Advent journey and of the Christian life generally. As Father Delp explains, our liberation from sin comes in our surrender to God:
. . . The power that will overcome the law of sin is not to be found within the heart of the sinner who seeks it. And he must first fulfil the necessary condition of a change of heart before he can even receive that redemptive power which lies beyond his reach. He must first call upon it and then make himself ready so that he may go to meet it. Advent does not offer freedom to the man who is convinced he is already converted. Stir up thy power: by the help of thy grace. It is a case of God against sin. Sin is very like a handcuff - only the person with the key can unlock it. It doesn't matter how fervently I desire it, I cannot rid myself of my handcuffs because I have no key. And sin is like the door of my cell - even if I had a key I could not unlock the door because it has no keyhole on this side. It can only be opened from outside. And opposed to sin is God, as accuser and judge of man obstinate in error, as liberator and saviour if he will turn to his Redeemer and ally himself with his Creator against sin. . . .
How do we ally ourselves with God? First and foremost, we do so by prayer. Though we must remain hopeful that God will answer our prayers, we cannot know the exact form that God's response will take:
The outcome of so many things, the occurrence of so many miracles depends on the wholeheartedness of our plea to God. He will not always provide sensational miracles - though they will occur now and again, witnessing to his divine power. But with truly regal bounty he will reveal himself in a thousand little everyday adjustments proving by innumerable apparently casual events that his will prevails in the end. The man of real faith has no doubt about the outcome - he leaves the means to God. And when God repays, and more than repays, man's trust we can only stand speechless in amazement and awe.
As we complete this time of preparation for the Feast of the Nativity, each of us could do well to reflect upon the ways in which our trust in God has been amply rewarded. The work of opening our hearts and our lives to receive Christ into our midst includes the task of recognizing how the One we await has already manifested himself in our lived experience. Just as God's answer to our prayers can take the form of "a thousand little everyday adjustments," the Lord can make himself present to us in subtle and often surprising ways. As we recall with gratitude the ways that God has been at work in our lives, let us prepare to joyfully celebrate the birth of our Redeemer. AMDG.


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