Dietrich Bonhoeffer compared our Advent waiting for the coming of Christ at Christmas to the waiting of a miner trapped underground. The miner is totally alert, totally absorbed in listening for every blow and every footfall of his rescuers making their way toward him. Can you imagine, Bonhoeffer wonders, that the miner ever thought of anything “other than the approaching liberation from the moment he heard the first tapping against the rock?” Advent is like that. “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:28).
It is already knocking at the door, don’t you hear it? It is breaking open its way through the rubble and hard rock of your life and heart. Christ is breaking open his way to you. He wants to again soften your heart, which has become hard… he calls to us that he is coming and that he will rescue us from the prison of our existence, from fear, guilt, and loneliness…
The only question is: Will we let redemption come to us or will we resist it? Will we let ourselves be pulled into this movement coming down from heaven to earth or will we refuse to have anything to do with it? Either with us or without us, Christmas will come. It is up to each individual to decide what it will be.
This picture, The Rescue, is by Jan Oliver, a contemporary painter of retablos living in Pueblo, Colorado. It’s one of the most moving portrayals of St. Francis of Assisi I’ve seen, since it so clearly captures his total identification with Christ’s mercy for all of creation. I just love Jan’s work, and I’d urge you to click on her name and check out her excellent website for yourself.