Sunday, December 16, 2012

Amid Lock-Downs, Christ is Coming

As a public school teacher in the United States, I am accustomed to lock-down drills. In fact, as it happened, we had one Friday. We have one once a month, as the state of New Jersey requires. We have "non fire evacuations" and "lockdowns" and "active shooter" drills. The teens in my care know what to do; we turn off the lights, we lower the shades, we huddle in a corner and we stay quiet and we wait until the all clear. I can see from the news coverage that those kindergartners and their teachers were trained too, on how to deal with a shooter in the building.

At Sandy Hook Elementary School, teacher Victoria Soto knew to hide her children in closets and lockers and the children knew to keep quiet. In this way, she saved her first graders, but lost her own life to the shooter. How is it this is the world we inhabit?

Yesterday, I felt like our Church's liturgical calendar was off kilter. Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent and we are called to rejoice. This made no sense to me. Today, after Mass, I understand. "Rejoice the Lord is nigh," the readings tell us. My heart is heavy. How can we rejoice? At Mass, I cried. So, too, did an older woman in the pew behind me. Parents who normally let their young children walk beside them in the Communion line were carrying them, holding them tightly. Rejoice?

AP photo of a mourner at St. Rose of Lima Church in Newton, Connecticut

And yet, the Church is full of wisdom. The seasons come and the seasons go. We follow the rhythms of the liturgical calendar, no matter what the world outside or inside our homes looks like,  no matter the state of our own hearts. This is because the Church carries the truth to us.

The truth is this: Humans are flawed, deeply flawed. We fall down every day and we daily fail to reflect the glory of creation. Mystery entered the realm of the human in order to redeem us, to remind us that each of us was summoned into being from nothingness and it is this connection to the Infinite that answers our prayers and which gives our lives meaning. Our task here is to imitate as best we can,  the life of Christ.

No evil can separate us from truth. And so tonight, even though our hearts are heavy with grief, we will light that third Advent candle, the Shepherd's candle, the one that reminds us that He came to us as an ordinary man and that He still comes to us through others.

Victoria Soto, 27, who died protecting her first-grade students.

Christ has no body but yours,

No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515 - 1582)


  1. A wonderful reflection, Allison. I'm so glad it was published!
    Thanks you and Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Marissa. And a happy Christmas to you and yours.