by Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP
This is the last week of the liturgical year—the Feast of Christ the King—and the end of the Year of Faith. As we move soon into Advent, the haunting yet lovely prayer Maranatha will be often on our lips and resounding from our hearts. Come, Lord Jesus. Come! Come! Come!
The prayer of longing flows readily from our lips when we look around us and feel frightened or lost or embittered or angry at injustice or deprived of what we need to live securely. Our longing is porous to the divine longing which flows out to us: Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened. Come! Come! Come!
Thy kingdom come!
Behold I stand at the door and knock!
See Where the New Begins
Pope Francis says that faith gives us new eyes to see our life and what it’s all about. We are able to see the time and the place where the new begins when we open our eyes and hearts to what God is bringing about. We hope his kingdom comes and will do everything possible to collaborate with all our strength, while knowing that the secrets of the divine economy, the ways of his Providence and the plans of his wisdom, we are ignorant of. We do not know them completely. Perhaps our greatest wisdom, our highest calling, is to be in awe of how the story of salvation is working out within us and around us.
This year has taught me that I am most spiritually alive when I wait with patience for the designs of God to be completed in me and in the world. Am I a proponent of a sort of pacifism in life: “come what may, it doesn’t matter, God’s in charge”? No. I have learned the wisdom of holding lightly the way I see, because I can unintentionally ruin the work of God when I insist on my own perspective and act with power on my own opinion. This healthy doubt helps me to wait for sight, to see things I missed before, to sit with realities too painful to process and allow God to surface new meaning and to regenerate new life. I too easily act on my timetable. I achieve eternal proportions when I act on God’s timetable. I lose my spiritual dignity when I insist that the greater cycle of events turn out my way.
A line from the writings of Etty Hillesum—a Jewish woman whose letters and diaries, kept between 1941 and 1943, describe life in Amsterdam during the German occupation, and who died at Auschwitz on November 30, 1943—has led me: “If one burdens the future with one’s worries, it cannot grow organically. I am filled with confidence, not that I shall succeed in worldly things, but that even when things go badly for me I shall still find life good and worth living” (The Interrupted Life, page 182).
What Love Can Do
Many things that are happening in our lives right now are unnerving at the least and devastating at worst. Losses of jobs and insurance and food stamps and the right to live according to our beliefs. The kingdom will come when we can love, even as we struggle for what is right. When we can love, even as we fight for what is just for ourselves and others. When we can find peace within ourselves by transforming our bitterness into compassion one day. When we can turn our fears into certain hope in the kingdom already present among us. As Etty Hillesum says: “Perhaps that is asking too much. It is, however, the only solution” (page 151). Love breaks open the future in ways we couldn’t expect. The King who washes the feet of the one who would deny him, who washes our feet, is our Way in Loving.
As we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King which will be followed four weeks later by the celebration of the Birth of the King of Kings we remember that we have been loved with a love unto death when we had nothing to deserve such love. As members of the kingdom of love, it is our privilege now to share that love with others, whether we consider them deserving or not.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come! Come! Come!