Updated: Dec 10, 2018
Those of us of a certain age will remember that line from the ‘Three Musketeers’. I thought of them today when I was visiting P2/3 who had come up with a great word to associate with Advent: ‘cozier’. As soon as I noticed that word next to Advent and saw the rain coming down outside, I was instantly transported back to when I was a child and my mum reading that book to me when I was in bed sick – probably at this time of the year. All of us during December try to be ‘cozier’, and most of us realize how difficult that can be for some.
Advent and cozy: what’s the link? Primary 2/3 of St Dominic’s explained it all. Some of the other words they had come up with for Advent were, ‘welcome’ and ‘joy’. We spoke about welcoming people with joy and what we do to welcome our loved ones in particular: we hug them, we ‘cozy in’ with them.
The genius of God to send his Son as a child, as someone who loves to hug and ‘cozy in’. Preparing to welcome Jesus is preparing to open our arms and hearts to embrace him with warmth and joy.
We experience that warmth and joy from others, or don’t, as the case may be. Yes, the ‘coziness’ that Christ brings is shared and experienced principally in community, or at least from one other. We also know that being alone, going through life without that human warmth and kindness is worse than the most savage of winters.
Yet, that is the experience of many people this year and every year. No wonder Christ is forgotten by so many when they experience the negative side of that word ‘cozy’: exclusion of others and a shunning of the truth by a clique.
The philosopher Josiah Royce, closely associated with American Pragmatism, underlined the need for others if we were ever to get to the deeper truths. Others act as a corrective to our own thinking, and in our engagement with others we start to see the bigger picture.
He and others were reacting to a world which was putting more and more emphasis on the individual as the master of their own world of thought and action.
Feeling, thought, enjoyment, life all come from and are gifted in and by community.
Christ called his disciples into companionship, as friends, and did not send his disciples out as individuals. Throughout the history of the Church, the great saints have often had to remind us of this. The Good News comes to us in this way: even when we are reading the scriptures on our own, we know that they are the writings of God with his people, and they express a shared experience and vision. No wonder that our parishioners last weekend put such an emphasis on friendship and support.
The next time you are with people, in a shop, in a queue, or waiting in traffic, be aware of them. Purposely open your heart to them. Maybe even look up and smile. In your prayer that day, bring them to the Lord. What more does the Lord want you to do?