Come Lord Jesus, come and be born in our hearts.
It’s simple but profound. Christ lives in our hearts. Jesus is working and dwelling in our souls. Is there anything in your heart that doesn’t belong there? Is something taking up space where God should be? Are you holding back somehow?
“The great gift of God is a true understanding of what love means. Holding back parts of our hearts keeps us from that great gift of God. When we stop holding back, we are free.” (Fr Declan Gibson)
Now read that quote again, but imagine it being said in a very reverent and almost magical Irish accent. Ha ha you say, but this whole post is inspired by a completely un-Advent-related talk I attended last month by Fr Declan Gibson, native of Donegal Ireland, currently of St Maximin La Sainte Baume in the south of France. Sidenote: does anyone want to pilgrimage with me there? It looks AMAZING.
Getting back to the point…consider the following passage from the Gospel of John:
Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” (John 2:13-16)
It’s time to clear the doves out of the temple.
According to the living word of God in the Bible, each of us are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is within us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Living as a temple of God, people who encounter you will encounter love. They will encounter mercy. Whatever is not good in our hearts, they will also encounter. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you to an awareness of whatever unhealthy attachments you’ve been harboring, and anything in your heart that’s taking up space where our beloved, God, should be. Think about your decisions and mindfully pursue time with our Lord, who truly wants our time and attention…and our love.
So back to Fr Declan and his awesome current place of residence in the South of France. Guess what? It’s also a shrine to someone I’d like to present as an Advent mentor: Mary Magdelene. (If you want to read more, one of Fr Declan’s brothers at the shrine wrote a pretty great book.) Not only was she present at the crucifixion, she was also at the tomb of Jesus and the first person to spread the news of His resurrection. So, guess what else? She eventually arrived in France and is credited with evangelizing the whole of that region.
You might also remember Mary of Magdala as the lady who anointed Jesus’ feet with expensive oils, leading Judas to complain of the extravagance. However, in thinking of Mary as our Advent mentor, consider the extravagant love Mary had for Jesus. She doesn’t count the cost of her love, she pours it out. She lived fully for Jesus and only Him, staying devotedly close, even after His death. She will not be distracted or put off by anyone in her pursuit of Christ. In her waiting at the tomb, she’s a model of our own perseverance in this season of waiting.
Soon it will be Christmas!