By Stephan Alexander, seminarian
Like the desire for God, love is a desire common to all human persons. It is also a virtue commonly associated with the Second Week of Advent and perhaps, can serve as the heart of our prayer, reflection, and practical exercises.
This weekend’s readings highlight St Paul’s prayer for the Philippians, that their “love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can recognize what is best” (Phil 1:9–10).
The Gospel’s revelation of John the Baptist’s call for repentance, in preparation for the salvation of God, is also grounded in love since it is most effective when motivated by love of God.
What if St Paul’s prayer becomes our prayer? We’d likely pray for growth in love, understanding and discernment so that we could better evaluate the situations in our lives and respond more lovingly.
And what if John the Baptist’s recognition of the saving love of Our Redeemer, in the face of our sinfulness, could become the lens through which we see ourselves and each other. We would probably recognise our own giftedness as well as our shortcomings.
Additionally, the ways in which God blesses others might become more apparent. Our reflection may even help us to recognise that we are all connected. While focus on connection might reveal the areas of disconnection in our lives: our disconnection from God; from the truth of ourselves as God’s children; and from each other.
Such insights are part of the true grace of the Advent season. They help us to take stock of our relationship with God, refocus our attention on the necessity for love and identify disconnection as “one of the greatest sources of human pain” (Brené Brown, research professor and bestselling author).
God helps us in this journey of preparation and motivates our reconnection with Him and with each other. As He continues to reveal in us the gifts and talents that we are blessed with, let’s seek to use these gifts to affirm and uplift each other.