Looking For Love – 1st Sunday of Advent
Welcome to the beautiful season of Advent! For my Advent posts this year, I decided to focus on the themes presented by Fathers John Pungente, SJ and Monty Williams, SJ, in their new book Advent Goes to the Movies – Finding God through film (2021, from Novalis). They offer themes for each of the four weeks of Advent and use four films (including family-friendly options) to develop each theme. I will not make use of the films.
However, the authors use very relatable films and offer a series of reflection questions that could be used in a classroom, a living room, a parish gathering, or for personal use. The reflection questions aim to show how the film is an entry point into Advent themes. I’ll use the four themes: looking for love, the call to be loving, the sacrifice of love, and the joy of love given and received.
For the opening Sunday, they deal with our human search for love. This busy time of year can be frantic, overextended, filled with unreal expectations and so on. We all know it in a real way, often longing for a break from all of it. Our hectic pace is often a way of expressing our basic desire for love and acceptance. Pungente and Williams sum up this week of Advent.
All that busyness, noise, excitement, and even dread tries to fill a longing, or distract us from that longing, that is at the root of what it means to be human. As humans, we desire to be happy, but we cannot create our happiness by ourselves. It is a gift, and we can only access that gift if we become attentive.
My experience of relying on Ignatian spirituality is that this attentiveness is the way into the ability to relate the world through the eyes of faith, and, therefore, a closer relationship with God. A word I use a lot is beholding.
The authors write of our experiences of being touched by love and grief. It is primarily at those times that we become attentive. With love we encounter God and discover how love transforms us. Grief brings us closer to the recognition that only God can fill the emptiness in our lives. In other words, it is in love and grief that we recognize that we are human, that we need the peace and connection to God that Jesus offers.
Today’s Gospel reading includes Jesus’ invitation to us to be alert and attentive. Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life. Advent coincides with one of the busiest times of year, a season when that attentive attitude is crucial.
The grace that this little book offers for this First Week of Advent is to become aware of the ways God offers us a path to fullness of life.