…for you do not know when the time will come.
John Kavanaugh, a famous ethicist, went to Calcutta seeking Mother Teresa but he was seeking for something more. He went for three months to work at “the house of the dying” to find out how best he could spend the rest of his life.
When he met Mother Teresa, he asked her to pray for him.
“What do you want me to pray for?” she replied.
“Clarity. Pray that I have clarity,” he requested.
“No,” Mother Teresa answered, “I will not do that.”
When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the thing you are clinging to and must let go of.”
When Kavanaugh said that she always seemed to have clarity, the very kind of clarity he was looking for, she laughed and said: “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So, I will pray that you trust God.”
We need this lesson in trust as we begin the Advent Season. We all know that God deserves our trust but why do we, like Kavanaugh, cling to the need for clarity instead of trusting in him?
We seek clarity because the circumstances of life can create so much darkness and confusion. We began this year full of expectations. Many played on the number 2020, expressing the fact that this year will be one of renewed vision. As we come to the end of the year, we are experiencing a complete opposite of our expectations.
The health crisis occasioned by COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in a proportion that no one could ever have imagined. The toll that this is taking on the mental health of many cannot be quantified. Unfortunately, the crisis has gone a long way to reveal the divisions that exist among us. You only need to log onto social media to experience the bitterness, hatred and lack of compassion that our current crisis has revealed. All these are symptoms of a desire for clarity that has eroded our trust in God.
Jesus knew that the events of life will distract us. That is why he tells us to keep awake, to become conscious of God who is present even in our current situation, as challenging as it is. Keeping awake addresses spiritual apathy, which manifests in paying so much attention to things that do not matter. It is a refusal to trust in God, a way of not paying attention to oneself or the needs of others or the voice of God, choosing to be busy doing nothing. To wait for Christ patiently demands active attention.
Our difficulty today is that our circumstances have made us insensitive to Christ who is always present among us and so we are inattentive to the signs reminding us that he comes to us daily. The season of Advent forces us to abandon our need for clarity and renew our trust in God.