The Divine Longing

What is it we really want? What or who are we following after? This is part of the business of Advent, to sort and sift amongst our various priorities, because whatever or whoever we are looking for, our true heart’s desire is going to be the interpretive key to all that we perceive. Where is Jesus in that list for us, and would we be able to recognize him and his lovely working amongst all that competes for our attention?

The field of view is pretty crowded: besides the ordinary business of life there are all our personal ghosts clamoring for attention, other momentary distractions, and anxieties of all kinds pressing in that suddenly seem in particularly abundant supply.

And yet, even if we were to repent and prepare the way for Jesus with utmost eagerness, clear out all that litters the spiritual landscape, still we could not outdo God’s eager longing for us and God’s continuous generosity in seeking us. For Jesus is coming not merely at some vague future time, but he offers himself to us even now, at each and every moment, even in all that opposes, all that prods, all that discomforts, all that scares us—including in ourselves. As Julian puts it, For whether we are filthy or pure, we are always the same in His love.  For well or for woe, He wills that we never flee from Him.

For the other great work of Advent is to learn to recognize Jesus in all these places, not if he comes, but when, and more than that, to expect him in everything. In this, we have the best guide in Mary, the first to be aware of and find him. And however much we seek Jesus, he is already there ahead of us, he has already sought us, and given us the desire to seek him.

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