2nd Wednesday in Advent
In one of his sermons grouped around Advent and Christmas, St Bernard tells his hearers to rejoice because ‘A physician is coming to the sick, a redeemer to those who have been sold, a path to wanderers, and life to the dead.’ St Bernard is addressing those to whom this coming matters. It is only the sick who will rejoice in the coming of the physician. It is only those who know they have been sold into captivity who will rejoice at the advent of the redeemer. It is only those who are tired of wandering who will be happy when the Way appears and it is those who know they are spiritually dead who long for life. To truly know Christ Jesus we must know our own need. And our need is a key to unlock the mystery of His Person.
When Jesus says to the crowd, ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest’ He is addressing those who really and truly know they are weary, who know that they can do nothing by their own power, who know that the yoke of their own sin and willfulness is driving them into the ground. Only with such an experience of need can we truly hear the invitation of Jesus and rejoice in it.
Advent is a time of waiting but it is also a time for self-knowledge. We cannot wait if we have no need. We only long for something and someone when we get in touch with our need, our loneliness, our incompleteness. Our neediness is not pleasant knowledge that is why we avoid it. But in the measure that we encounter the intractable void within and the anxiety and interior agitation it provokes which no money, fame or power will make go away, in that same measure we will turn to Him who promises to give us rest from this. We like to be in control and independent. The rugged individualist is the archetype that seduces us all the while. But what the Lord is saying is only a relationship can fulfill the human person. Only by coming to Him, being with Him, humbling our pride and worshiping Him can we find true happiness. He, God, is humble enough to seek us out, to want to relate to us. He is meek and humble of heart. And it is only the meek and humble of heart who will come to Him and recognize in Him their true rest.