December 13, 2015 – Third Sunday Of Advent
Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18
Gerry Pierce, CSSR
During Advent the figure of John the Baptist stands out very clearly as someone who knew who he was and whose face showed exactly how he felt. “When a feeling of expectance began to grow among the people who were beginning to think that John may be the Christ, he declared openly before them all. ‘I baptize you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals.'” In another place he said, “I must decrease and HE must increase.” “I am not the Messiah but I have come to prepare the way for him.” From this secure self-identity he could say who he was and tell others what they should be.
In my experience of listening to peoples’ stories most people have trouble being who they truly are. Many of us have been told as children that anger, jealousy or sexual thoughts and feelings were sinful. We came to believe that if we experienced such emotions we ourselves were bad. Nobody can love what is bad, so we pretend that we are someone other than who we are – we put a permanent smile or a permanent frown on our faces: or we take up the pose of the funny fellow, the wise guy, or the authority who cannot be questioned. We tend to become doughnuts running around our true selves and never being at home at our own centers. We often tend to use prayer to prop up our facade of virtue or wisdom or power. We pray for the things and the achievements that we think we need to fill up the real emptiness that we feel inside ourselves.
Meditation is a different way of prayer. By trying to be still, to be at home within ourselves, we come to realize that we are basically good. We may have strong emotions or feelings but they in themselves do not make us bad – they only make us who we are. We are called to be responsible in dealing with them and this is where the question of goodness or badness comes in. Meditation is a way of being at home with our true selves, the shadow as well as the light. From this honest self-acceptance there comes a strength from the center to become fully what we are called to really be.