Come Lord Jesus! An Advent reflection

Categories: Advent,Around the Diocese

By Father Eric Hollas

Come Lord Jesus!

I don’t often draw inspiration from comedians, but you have to give them their due. Great comics succeed because of their keen insight into human behavior, and they get us to laugh at ourselves, even when it hurts.

A case in point is a guy I heard recently who built his routine around the noxious things people say when they get behind the wheel of a car. His point was simple: There’s stuff people say in a car that they would never think to say in the aisle of a market or in a library.

In the privacy of a car mild-mannered grandmothers become raging beasts, and lambs send wolves running for cover. At the mere hint that someone is about to inch into their lane, for example, some people will unleash a torrent of naughty words that would make sailors blush.

Perhaps people feel free to do this because they think no one will hear. And it’s good that people don’t hear, because most drivers are not saying the rosary or the Jesus prayer. It’s usually quite the opposite, and it’s just better that people not hear what’s really being said.15A

This might seem an odd start to a reflection on Advent, but it’s not. On the First Sunday of Advent the Gospel passage from Luke quotes these words from Jesus:  “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent ….”

When Jesus speaks these words today, he means to address them to each one of us, and not just to the so-called important people. In a world that seems ready to plunge off the cliff, it’s easy to assume that Jesus is talking about big things like the bombings in Paris, wars all over the place and catastrophes everywhere. In the face of such horrors it’s tempting to freeze in our tracks and assume that there’s nothing we can do. In fact, we should not even feel responsible, because Jesus is speaking only about the important people.

Elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus notes that those who do well with the little things will be entrusted with even greater responsibility; and that brings us back to the business of driving.

Jesus speaks to us and, for not a few of us, the time behind the wheel is the litmus test for the kind of lives we choose to lead. If, on reflection, we are shocked by some of the things we say while we’re driving, then it’s important to realize that this is part of who we are, whether we like it or not. It’s the personal baggage we tote around wherever we go. If in other circumstances we keep this anger safely under wraps, then good. But such tendencies are still there, lurking just behind the serenity of our faces. It’s part of the complete package of who we really are.

So what is the recipe for a successful Advent?

First of all, don’t expect God to delegate to us any of the huge issues facing the planet. Chances are slim that the world will turn to us to solve a single international crisis. Nor will people call on us to ease any of the nation’s problems. Nor will they ask us to take the lead in bettering the culture of our town or community.

But we are not off the hook just because we’ve not been delegated any of the big items. In fact, Jesus has given each of us lots of work to do, and for me it begins with the management of everything within a two-foot radius of my person. That includes the space inside my car, and it also includes the many people who will come close to my circle in the next few weeks.

It may seem like Jesus has entrusted very little to us, but in fact he expects a great deal from us. Our personal space may not seem like much, yet it’s what God has given us to manage. For most of us, including myself, it’s sometimes even more than we can handle, but it’s what we’ve been given.

Advent, then, is our moment to wake up and see about managing our personal responsibilities. And if by chance the inside of a car is what brings out the worst in us, then that’s where we need to begin on day 1 of Advent.

For starters, just imagine if, the next time someone cuts me off, I dispensed with my customary words and instead screamed out “Come Lord Jesus!”  Better still, imagine a highway filled with people shouting “Come Lord Jesus!” It would be stranger than fiction and grist for a new comedy routine.

Benedictine Father Eric Hollas is a monk of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville and works in the office of Institutional Advancement at St. John’s University. He is the author of the weekly blog, “A Monk’s Chronicle,” which is published every Monday at https://monkschronicle.wordpress.com.​ This blog post was reprinted with permission.