Darkness and light are huge themes in Advent. My friend Elizabeth Imms from the Heart of Mary Women’s Fellowship shared three Bible verses in the reflection she wrote for today:
“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Matthew 4:16
“And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness does not overcome it.” John 1:5
“But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7
I grew up in New Jersey and I remember how the way the seasons changed was so clear to me. I remember the colors of fall that painted the boulevards of my neighborhoods. I remember sledding in the local park as a child and praying that I get snow days. In Texas, it almost never snows. But given, for some reason, the sky is bigger in Texas than anywhere else I know (Texas bias, I know, but go with me on this), I can still see the change of the seasons by how quickly it takes for the sky to get dark.
Whenever I go on retreats, they usually take place somewhere out in the city where you can actually see the stars at night. The stars remind me that there is still light in the darkness. During one retreat, there was a distant thunderstorm and although I didn’t see the stars that night, the lightning that flashed across the sky was dazzling and frightening all at the same time.
The light of the Lord is very much like the stars and the lightning. Sometimes, He can seem cold and distant like the stars or as dangerous as lightning. In truth, like the stars, the light of the Lord guides us in the darkness, and like the lightning, it’s natural that we fear the Lord. In fact, fear of the Lord is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. However, the fear of the Lord isn’t a paralyzing fear the same way other phobias are.
According to Pope Francis: “The fear of the Lord, the gift of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t mean being afraid of God, since we know that God is our Father that always loves and forgives us. It is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace when the Holy Spirit lives in our heart, he instills consolation and peace in us.”
You may not know this, but St. Thomas Aquinas was afraid of lightning storms due to his sister being killed in one such storm. Whenever a storm broke out, Aquinas would hide in a church.
In this time of Advent, let the Lord guide you in these dark times. Understand that it is only through God that we are able to find peace. As Augustine said “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”