Tommy was a young man in his first year of Catholic college, and even though he professed himself to be an atheist, he signed up for a course called “The Theology of Faith”. From the first day of the class, he tortured the professor. In every class he challenged that was being taught. At the end of the first semester, after the last class, the young man went up to the teacher and asked, “Do you think I will ever believe in God?” And the priest professor, fed up with this goofy kid, said, “No.”
The second half of the second year, the professor is in his office and in walks this kid. The priest had been happy not to see the young man, but here he was again. He asked if he could talk to the priest, who said, “Ok.”
The young guy said, “When I left your class last year, I thought I would never be able to believe in God. Then I had some stomach pain, went to a doctor and after tests, he told me that I had an incurable cancer and would probably die this year. I stayed home for the winter. My Dad and I had not gotten along. I did a lot of stuff that he didn’t like and we began to stay away from one another. Then one night with me and my Dad the only ones home, I went downstairs and there he was on his favorite chair, reading a book. I interrupted him and said, “Can I talk with you?” He said, “Okay.” Bu the way he said it I could only imagine he was thinking “here we go again”.
I said, “I know we haven’t been getting along for the last five years, but I think I need to tell you , I am so sorry for all the trouble I caused you. I know there were some nights where you must have thought, ‘my son has really lost it. There’s no hope! I did things deliberately to rattle your cage, and I’m really sorry. A lot of fathers would have given up on me, but no matter what, you kept standing for what you believed, but never totally gave up on me. I want to thank you for that, and I got to tell you, you’re a great father and I love you. Then my father did two things I could not remember him doing before. He cried, and he hugged me.
I think this story can offer us a great deal to think about as we begin the season of Advent. Since ancient times Advent has always been seen as a time of considering an end of darkness and looking forward to the coming of light, just as we see longer days after December 21st. The darkness grows weaker and the sun becomes stronger. So, Advent becomes a time when the tide will turn. It’s supposed to be a time of breakthrough—-from darkness into light.
Jesus says to us, its time to move into the light, enough of the darkness. So, what is the struggle in your life that you want to overcome? What darkness would you like to see reversed? What breakthrough would you and I want for this coming year? What tide would you like turned around?
That you might be more understanding of the needs of those around you? More forgiving? Less addicted? More chaste? What dark things in your life would you like to be freed from?
Perhaps there is the chance to make the first move in a relationship that has drifted in the wrong direction for too many years.
This is a great time to go to confession, and begin to shake off some of the habits that have been hurting you. Advent is a great time to let go of the anger and resentment that has made you bitter and cynical and that is slowly killing you emotionally, to shake off the feelings of self pity and seek the healing the Christ wants to offer you.
Christ is whispering in your ear: Enough of the darkness, get ready to move into the light. Stop wasting time!!