The long wait is over — Madison Diocese Seminarian Bill VW is back to guest blog.
It has been a really, really long time since Madison Catholic Youth’s favorite guest blogger has graced these pages with the deeply profound thoughts you had all become accustomed to. My bad for that.
In reality, I have intended to write a post or two or seven many, many times over the last couple of months, but have been kept busy by my studies and formation as a seminarian for the Diocese.
As part of my formation at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, MN, I have the opportunity to visit, pray, and study with some men incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, MN. The FMC is a medium security prison. As you can imagine, the men don’t have much freedom. They get told when to wake up and when to go to sleep and when and how to do everything in between. It’s actually quite a bit like the seminary — just kidding.
When my fellow seminarians, one of our priests, and I visit the FMC, Father celebrates Mass for the inmates and then they are invited to participate in a discussion about the readings for the weekend and their own personal faith journey. The discussion is typically filled with brotherly banter. In fact, some of the older inmates frequently like to remind us seminarians that they are smarter and wiser than us.
Between the friendly mocking and tests of wit, the inmates offer some incredibly profound reflections on the love of God working in their lives. During our last visit, one inmate shared something that has been on my heart and mind ever since. He said, “Ya know, I think Jesus is the little God who waits.” He went on to describe his marvel at Jesus’ humility in becoming human like you and I, offering us the gift of his eternal love, while still allowing us the freedom to choose that love.
This statement on the nature of Jesus Christ is particularly relevant during this Advent season. Since the beginning of time, God has “waited” for humanity. When the Father created the world, though he created man perfect, he left us with the power to choose to love Him. Ever since our first parents, Adam and Eve, chose against that love in Original Sin, God has been waiting patiently for mankind to be ready once again to accept His love.
God to spoke to many people throughout history, slowing revealing more and more about who he is, who we are, and who we were made to be. God remained patient with the Israelites, who, even after being freed from slavery in Egypt, continually turned away from the Lord towards false gods and idols. God remained patient with His people even as they rejected the prophets He sent and the message of love they desired to bring.
Little by little, God made known who is He is to the people whom He loves. This process of revelation ultimately culminated in the most spectacular event in human history to date: a baby was born. Just a simple little baby. God could have finally revealed His entire self to the people in a magnificent display of His splendor and power. I have no idea what this would look like, but I imagine if God really wanted to do something crazy, it would be a bit more than your average firework show.
But instead, God reveals everything about Himself by becoming one of us, taking on our frailty in all things but sin. As if that wasn’t humble and patient enough, Jesus waited another 30 years before He even told anyone who the heck He was! Even after His Passion, death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ still waits for you and I. He waits with patient love as we struggle to make Him the center of our lives. As long as we’re alive, Jesus Christ’s patience will never run out on us. Even though we so often fail, choosing against his love, and falling into sin, Jesus continually offers us His love.
I think a man in prison would probably know something really special about God’s patient love for him. This Advent, I hope we can learn from this man to never give up on God’s patient and merciful love for us. The fact is we should never be discouraged by our own sin and weakness, but remain hopeful in the fact that Jesus Christ’s sole purpose for becoming human, born of the Virgin Mary, was to ensure our salvation and restore us to His love. On Christmas, when we celebrate again the birth of the Jesus, let Him love you like the beautiful creation that you are. And make sure to spend some time with Him during the Christmas season, because who doesn’t love playing with babies, right?