December 13, 2016 // Local

Advent: Week 4 — Showing love for our fellow man during Advent

By Emma Ward

Someone recently described Advent to me as being a time of preparation for the coming of Christ, but also as a time for allowing Jesus to come into our hearts in a very intimate way. Rather than the penitential, somber reflection of suffering during Lent, this approach to Advent is a very broad focus on spiritual life. One can take many different routes to better allow Jesus into one’s life, but there are several basic steps all must take to properly prepare for the coming of Christ, both during Advent and at the end of our lives.

There is a reason why many churches are magnificently constructed and why numerous great artists depict scenes from the Bible; God does deserve all the finest the world can offer, but the Lord is beauty itself. This reality is one that can be reflected upon. God is the creator of the universe: All has order, and the things that He created were good and, therefore, beautiful. Yet, God is the greatest of all. God, who created beauty, is beauty Himself. All things created by God have a part of Him within, which is something all can ponder.

A great justice that can be done as preparation during Advent would be to recognize the beauty of God in all things good, especially in the good and beautiful parts of the people we sometimes think have the most ugly interiors. An example is seeing that a person, even though he or she has a tendency to be uncharitable, is trying to deal with a very hard family life and trying to find solutions to their problems. Understanding that sometimes the person straying from the truth is truly trying to find themselves and figure out what truth is: This is a good and beautiful intention, yet often I think we do not see the human person for the entire depth that we are. People were created good and beautiful, in God’s image. We all have a right and duty to see God in others and treat ourselves well, too. That is a part of what makes us human.

One of the main actions that directly inhibit us from seeing God in others is gossip. Gossip is extremely judgmental, simply because what is seen of the victim is only one side of them. We have no right to tear others down for actions performed under circumstances that may have been extremely stressful for them. To counter this habit of gossip, a priest once advised me to thank God for the many gifts He had given me, especially the gifts that challenge me the most. After several minutes of calling to mind rather small gifts from God, and not being fully engaged, I found myself falling into a mental gossip of my own. I was astounded by myself and decided that I needed to change. I prayed in thanksgiving for all those people whose words or actions I had incorrectly judged, and I have never felt so close to God before. I felt in true communion with the church, and I felt at peace with myself and with God. It was amazing to experience that grace.

This Advent, I encourage others to open their hearts and walk the path of justice and treat our fellow men for who they really are, which is fragile and beautiful children who longs to hold their Father’s hand and share an intimate bond of love. Let us seek God’s beauty in all that is good and be thankful for the challenges with which Advent presents us.

Emma Ward is a junior at Bishop Luers High School.

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