Reflection – Prepare Him Room

For the past three years, I have experienced the Advent season differently because of a reflection from Sr. Ilia Delio, a Franciscan Religious with doctoral degrees in both theology and science, who suggested that during these four weeks leading up to Christmas, we as Christians are not passively waiting for what is not there, but we are preparing room in our hearts for a Jesus who has already come and part of our task is to illuminate his presence through loving actions. The “coming of Christ” also means an active moving onward towards a new way of living, believing and thinking.  In essence, God is waiting for us to awaken “as if we’re asleep in the manger, and not Jesus.”

My experience has been that meaningful transformation does not come easily, because at some point, I must acknowledge I am not “done” with my faith development, and there will always be room for growth and change.  The way in which I understand God and relate to Jesus Christ is different at the age of 48 than it was at the age of 18, not because God has changed, but because I have.  I have also noticed that my own transformation has often been accompanied by people and situations I might have otherwise avoided given the opportunity.  However, these same people and situations have challenged me to reconsider my certainties about God, “to get up from where (I) was and move on” towards Jesus Christ. 

So how do we move on in a significant way towards a God who is waiting for us when many of us do not even like to change where we sit at mass each Sunday?  How can we make room in our hearts for Jesus when we fear those we consider “outsiders,” or people who are different from us?  I know when I am forced to change my routine or way of thinking, I often feel a sense of having the rug pulled from beneath my feet.

When I was a child, each year before Christmas a group of adults and catechism children from St. Jude’s in Salisbury would visit the Jordan Memorial Sanatorium in River Glade to sing Christmas carols and distribute candy canes and Christmas cards to the residents.  Through the eyes of a child, the sanatorium building was intimidating, sitting like a massive, haunted mansion, with its unfamiliar smells, sounds and endless hallways that led to a common room where many residents and staff had gathered.  This common room had a stage, which is where we stood to sing our Christmas Carols. 

During my first visit, I spent a great deal of time staring at residents because I was unfamiliar with this environment.  In particular, I recall one resident who was confined to her wheelchair with a little table crossing the arm rests, maybe as a safety precaution, I am unsure.  All I know is she terrified me because she stretched her arms out across that table towards us children as though she was beckoning us, making noises in her throat my ten-year-old mind could not understand. No way was I going anywhere near her. 

Many years later, I understand better that Jesus was present in every one of us there, residents and carollers both, but the woman in the wheelchair makes me think of how moving towards a God who longs to embrace me can involve frightening steps outside my comfort zone.  Maybe I do not treat all children of God with the respect I should be offering every human being, this might be hard for me to admit.  The onus was upon me then, and the onus is upon me now, to open my heart to a God who waits patiently for me to prepare room in my heart and awaken to Jesus’ presence in each of us as we journey through this Advent season of love, joy, and hope.

Trevor Droesbeck
Archdiocese of Moncton
Office of Evangelization and Catechesis


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