Overcoming Indifference in Advent

Millennial writer Marcus Mescher has a new article for the Dorothy Day Center for Faith & Justice. He writes:

What does Advent require?  Yes, that we slow down, be still, and make time to prepare ourselves for God who comes to share life with us in loving solidarity with all.  Even more, Advent requires that we overcome the indifference that insulates us in busyness, distracts us from self-awareness, clouds our appreciation for others, and blinds us to the responsibilities we bear for right-relationship with our neighbors, no matter who they are.

How do we overcome indifference?  Openness.  Being open to an agenda that isn’t mine, a viewpoint or perspective that differs from my own.  Being open to a reality that is bigger than me.  Being open to sharing that reality together in a spirit of honesty and vulnerability, humility and mutuality, courage and compassion.  Openness is what is needed to be “Women and Men for and with Others.”  Openness is the first step to loving all others.  And openness keeps us from excluding some people from that love, reminded by Dorothy Day’s line that our love for God is only as great as the love we have for those we love the least.

For some, it might be hard to love someone who is radically different from us, someone we don’t understand or who seems strange.  For others, it’s hardest to love those who are closest to us, particularly a friend or family member who may have hurt us or someone else we love.  And for still others, the hardest person for us to love is our self: we might be tempted to think that our mistakes outweigh any good we can do, or that we amount to more of a burden on our loved ones than anything else.  But in these cases we lose sight of the fact that, as Genesis 1:26-31 reminds us, God created humanity in God’s own image and likeness (that is, we reflect the Divine in our very being, not because of anything we do or fail to do) and God finds us to be “very good.”  In that spirit (and in great pride as a professor), this amazing video (designed by two Xavier students) provides us a powerful reminder that to “love all” needs to begin with loving ourselves.  And that the first step to love requires that we embrace the good within ourselves and be open to the good in each and every person we encounter.

So let us pray for openness in the remaining days of Advent.  And may we never stop working to open wide our minds, our hearts, and our hands.  Openness is how we receive – and share – the loving goodness of God always in our midst.

You can read the full article here.