“The days are coming, says the LORD…”
It seems to me I am always caught by surprise with the onset of Advent each year. I know it’s coming. I enjoy the Season of Advent, this time of waiting, of preparing, of expecting. I enjoy the near-but-not-yet-ness of these days. Yet still, I always feel as though they’ve crept up on me. I know that since Thanksgiving, the focus of the culture has shifted to Christmas. There are office parties, shopping expeditions, family preparations, travel plans… all of this is part and parcel of the goings-on of our time, but Advent always tugs on me, gently reminding me of the need to focus at least as much on my interior life as on my exterior life.
The days are coming for what, we might well ask? What was the prophet Jeremiah trying to communicate to his people? They were a people in exile. They were strangers, living in a strange land, far from their own native place, looking to make a life for themselves and for their children in a land that was not always welcoming to them. It is in this context that the prophet reminds the people that the day is coming when the Lord God will fulfill his promise and return the people to a place of respect and restore to them a place they can call “home” once more. Jerusalem rebuilt and restored is the image of the promise upon which the eyes of God’s people are fixed.
In our own days, a longing for the fulfilment of this promise of “home” is not a small one. So many among us remain homeless, with a Daily News story reporting that the numbers have increased 23% this year alone. So many have been made homeless because of recent devastation and fires. Their lives have been completely upended, and many have lost their jobs because their places of work no longer exist. We are also mindful that we can’t pass a day without being exposed to some story about refugees or migrants, another group of people yearning for “home.” For some among us, the longing for “home” is grounded more in the desire for a restoration of relationships within the family, for overcoming hurts and wounds so that we can again feel “home” together.
Advent is a time for us to consider not only our longings and yearnings for material “home,” but also to consider the deeper and more internal needs of our spiritual longings. A word to the wise from St. Augustine reminds us that we are made for God, and that our hearts will always experience a certain wanderlust, a need to search for fulfilment, until we at last return to life in God’s presence. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee, O God.” It is a good thing for us to remember in this Holy Season of Advent that it is not a bad thing to long for, to yearn for. It is an essential part of the fabric of our very human condition. It is normal to feel like there is something missing, that no matter how comfortable we might feel, there is still some ways to go before we will fully enjoy the “comfort” of “home.”
The days are indeed coming, though they are not yet fulfilled… And so perhaps in this season of Advent we might prayerfully choose to foster some work that is about serving those who are in crisis and who long for “home.”
Some suggestions to consider:
Become part of a growing number of parishioners who join with a group of friends and offer to provide a meal for the guests at San Fernando Rescue Mission Homeless Shelter, located at 8756 Canby Avenue, Northridge.
(818) 785-4476. https://sfvrescuemission.org/
Make a donation to assist the victims of recent fires. 100% of all funds are distributed through local churches. Assistance offered to everyone affected by fires.
Donate to Catholic Relief Services, a Catholic Aid Organization offering real help in real time to migrants, refugees, and innumerable aid projects worldwide.
Operation Lourdes, DONATE travel-size toiletries, socks, etc. and leave them in our collecting bins in the Narthex of the church. TAKE completed packages of toiletries from our distributing bins and share them with those in need at off-ramps, parking lots, etc.