07 December 2009

An Advent Reflection

... submitted to and published by NewsNotes, the Province of St. Mary's weekly publication.

By Matthew Janeczko, OFM Cap.

Recently my father spoke about my tenure in the novitiate at St. Conrad’s with the teller at our local bank. He responded to the normal questions of “How long?,” “How did he get there?” and “Can he call home?” Finally, he answered the teller’s question about when my family could visit me. “Well, we’re not sure,” he responded, “He needs to get settled in first.” Turning from the window after completing his transaction, he found the customers around him straining to inconspicuously move into ear range. They wanted to know more about the Janeczko boy currently residing in prison for a year and a day. How they must have been disappointed!

Alas, I cannot survive novitiate by simply marking away the time of a year. Funny then, that I most usually spend my Advent each year by the mere crossing off of days on the calendar until Christmas. Perhaps I am a victim of Advent Calendar syndrome or perhaps I too have bought entirely into the consumerism of Christmas. I know not; but I do know that one can’t use Advent time marking strategies in the novitiate.

Throughout the Gospels we are confronted time and time again by the excess of God. There’s plenty of wine at Cana (Jn 2:1-12), many baskets of leftover bread and fish (Mk 6:34-44) and of course, the hundredfold promised for those who follow the Son (Mt 19:29). Yet when God’s excess meets up with my desire to simply count excess as a burden or as something to overcome, what is the result?

On one hand there is my human desire to mark the time of the novitiate and Advent; on the other, there is the reality of God’s superabundance of gift poured out for me. After beginning to reflect upon this, I soon realized I’m better off letting these gifts mark my days, instead of marking the days off until I get a few gifts.

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