Advent 1: Clearing the Cluttered Heart
‘Be careful that your hearts be not weighed down by the anxieties of life.’ (LK 21:34)
On the first week of Advent, Jesus deals with the ‘Martha’ in each of us by summoning her sister ‘Mary’; ‘Choose the greater thing…“Be watchful and alert” (MK 13:33) to my dwelling with you.’
No easy thing. I agree with Merton that we live in the time of ‘no room.’ We cram our hearts with more images and ideas than any sane person could savor. Fiendishly good at swapping opinions throughout the virtual universe, we are glutted by news but cannot glean the good news. As my pastor son recently sermonized: ‘I cannot hear God’s voice while surfing the Internet.’
Anxieties multiply and crowd out the One true thing. Global nightmares hypnotize us from screens we seem unable to turn off. We can smell the smoke and see the bodies; what once terrified us now becomes diverting. We seem to derive a strange comfort from connecting to others’ tragedies. Yet what displaces the drone of our real lives actually weighs us down and leaves little room for Him.
Off line, our real lives require more of Jesus than ever before. I just reread my prayer journals for 2014; I could hardly fathom the extremities I faced in my own little cosmos. Through it all, Jesus kept beckoning to me though His Spirit: ‘Stay free for Me… Don’t attach to that affliction or defeat or rejection or heresy… Entrust every fearsome to Me…’ Over and over, rest and peace and joy came only by following the words of St. Faustina: ‘Jesus, I trust in You.’
The enemy triumphs, not mostly through evident injustices, but through the roar of many little truths that crowd out the only Truth that matters. He came and is coming again. The cluttered, virtually addicted faithful run the risk of missing Him.
‘What can I say to the multitude of your thoughts? Don’t try too hard to heal your own heart, as your efforts might make it sicker…Keep Christ Crucified present to your imagination; in your arms and on your breast, and kissing His side, say a thousand times: “This is my hope, the living source of my happiness; this is the heart of my soul; nothing will ever separate me from His love!” ‘ St. Padre Pio