An alternative Advent reflection

by Fr. Jim Fleming

Fr. Jim Fleming provides an alternative reflection for Advent this year.

My father was a diviner. He was more than that, of course, but that was one of his greatest gifts and he was in great demand in that part of Kerry where we lived. Like horse whisperers and alchemists, he had the Gift. At one with his lightly held twig, he divined the presence of the sweetest water deep down in the earth, waiting to rush free and fast to the surface for family and neighbours.

We too have been enabled to divine our divinity, to sense God’s indelible image within even the most careless and sinful of us. For deep down below the rubble of the sins of our lives runs an underground river of God’s faithful devotion. And this is our quest – to find the hidden well of mystery within us, to recover when we are lost, the revelation of our own hidden beginnings. And one reason why Advent carries such a tangible impact is its potential response to the longing that never stops nagging at our human souls – a lust to live life to the full.

The liturgy of the church, at its best, responds to this longing, for example, in some its Sunday Mass prayers: “Lead us to seek beyond our reach; our longing for your presence is more than life itself; the love you give us always exceeds the furthest expressions of our human desire.”

Advent is not about waiting for the baby Jesus as though nobody had told us he had already arrived. It is, rather, about trying to make sense of that intense longing for a completeness that always eludes us, that burns in our flesh and that never leaves us alone. After all, we are all born with God’s seed in us and our lives are the womb that brings that seed to birth. The Advent moment reminds us that we are coded for God; we are programmed for heaven; we are an incompleteness searching for completeness.

As rivers flow and winds howl, so too, the human heart, with its imagination, affections and creativity, will never be, cannot ever be, other than God-bound. Advent paints for us a picture of the ultimate horizon of our longings. It holds up before us the mirror-image of our destiny. As St. Teresa of Avila said: “We need no wings to go in search of Him, but have only to look upon Him present within us”.

Thomas Merton wrote: “Make ready for the Christ, whose smile, like lightning, sets free the song of everlasting glory that now sleeps, in your paper flesh, like dynamite.”

A prayer for Advent

Lord, help us to enter into the spirit of Advent.
Deepen in us a desire to please you and to show a spirit of goodwill to all so that these special days will not pass by unheeded in all the Christmas rush.
Help us to clear away the things that block your coming into our hearts.
Help us to make straight your path into our lives and into our world so that your presence can fill each of us and fill our world with your peace.

‘Come, Lord Jesus, come.’


Fr. Jim Fleming