“When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” These words of Christ are valid no matter what year it is. They apply to all situations which seem desperate, all of the road blocks in our lives, all of the scenarios which seem chaotic and out of control. At first we’ll probably react with fear. There’ll be a temptation to believe in tragedy. But the Lord has taken tragedy off the table for us. Tragedy is the trap of fate: that fictitious belief in an outcome that has already been decided for us no matter what we do. Things would then simply take a turn for the worse and we would be left without a choice and with no hope. Our Savior voluntarily placed himself in that type of situation. They believed they had him and that it was ‘game over’. For our sake He allowed this to happen to Him in order to rid us all for ever of the prison of fate. Therefore, He has every right to say to us: “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” That is a clear and powerful statement about the work of Grace in our souls. It states the deeply Marian way of reacting to sorrowful circumstances. That is what she did at the Cross. She was able to stand and that is a tremendous gift for us.
We could name Saint John Paul II who ‘stood’ his whole life. The Nazis, the Soviets, the serious attempt on his life, Parkinson’s disease and whatever else anyone could throw at him; none of this could stop this man from standing. Saint Maximilian Kolbe, did he not stand in the midst of the horrors of Auschwitz? You’re probably thinking: what does any of this have to do with Christmas preparation? The Church has always understood that the Advent Season aims both at the Nativity and the Glorious Return of Christ in the end of time. Both of these mysteries require us to watch and pray, by the way. So don’t live this advent season thinking only about the Child Jesus, but rather consider too how the coming of this Child has ultimately liberated you from your fears and given you hope that you may stand tall through all of life’s challenges and beyond the end of time itself!
Fr Sean Mary.