The Call to be Loving – Second Sunday of Advent
For the Advent posts this year, I am focusing 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.
For the Second Sunday, they deal with our human call to be loving. The authors remind us that the effects of human sin often make it difficult for us to be as loving as we desire. We are limited and cannot love in an unconditional way. It’s helpful for us to ask ourselves why we are often incapable loving in the ways we desire. I know that my own limitations stem from experiences such as not having my love for someone reciprocated or being fearful of saying the wrong thing and misunderstood.
They point out that the presence of Christ in our lives helps us to discover how to love more fully. Advent is a time for us to open ourselves to recognizing more fully what it means to be human. The entry of Christ into our world and our personal lives is a challenge to become more human in a disordered world. Pungente and Williams sum up, Every time we live more humanly – in better relationship with God, with others, with creation and with ourselves – we make Christ more present in our world.
Advent offers us the example of Mary, in the Annunciation. Like Mary, we are invited to bring Christ into the world. This takes place through our acts of love, often simple acts.
Ignatius of Loyola concludes his Spiritual Exercises with the Contemplation to Attain Love. The intent is for us to grow in awareness of the love we have received and to be available to give love back. The Saint offers two preliminary observations at the start of the exercise. The first is that love ought to manifest itself more by deeds than words. The second is that love consists in a mutual sharing with the other person in the relationship. We offer the other what they lack; they offer us what we lack.
Advent is time for us to find ways to reach out in love to others, especially those who most need our love. Is there someone in my circle who most needs love and acceptance right now? Have I heard about a stranger or group of people who need love? How can I offer that gift?