First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7 | 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 | Mark 13:33-37
“All the Light We Cannot See.”
Recently, one of my favorite novels, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, became a Netflix film. Throughout the film’s four episodes, I was transfixed by the protagonist, a young, French, girl who, though blind from birth, manages to be a key contributor to the French Resistance Movement and the downfall of the Nazi regime. Though wrapped in the darkness of her disability and threatened daily by the guns of war, she manages to cast light across the airwaves of her contraband radio to her people. All the while, the actress, who is also blind, is radiating light to us through the lens of the film’s camera. The title of this lovely story can be bewildering. How can there be light we cannot see? Yet, while these words illuminate a central message of the story by Doerr, it has always been a central message of our Christian faith. There is light that only our vigilant watchfulness will reveal. This is the message we hear at the overture of the Advent season in the Gospel for this day. Be watchful! Be alert for the light which, as yet, you cannot see.
The incarnation event we celebrate at Christmas is a daily reminder that the “light which came into the world,” has always been partially hidden in plain sight. Even the many who shared the historical moment of life with Jesus of Nazareth could not see this light. Yet often, those whose lives were shadowed by darkness, those who were poor, sick, and on the margins of society, drew his light and continued to be his light in the world.
Advent always seems to come when our lives and world are shadowed in darkness. War, inequalities, the catastrophes of climate crises, and personal and family crises seem to obstruct the light that is already with us, the light that is always coming to us and within us— indeed, all the light we cannot see! Yet, standing on the threshold of this Advent season, the Gospel urges us to Be watchful! Be Alert! Pay Attention!
Take a moment each day this coming week to recall these urgent words. What is the light you long for—the light you cannot see? Bring this to your Advent prayer and wait not passively but watchfully. Be Alert, for all the light which, as yet, you cannot see.
It is coming!
Sr. Arlene Flaherty, OP