An Advent Reflection from Jesuit Father James Martin

Jesuit Father James Martin“Advent is all about desire,” an elderly Jesuit in Jesuit Father James Martin’s community used to say every year. Fr. Martin writes in America magazine that while he didn’t see it at first, now he understands what this Jesuit meant.

“Christians who celebrate Advent desire the coming of Christ into their lives in new ways. The beautiful readings from the Book of Isaiah, which we hear during Advent, describe how even the earth longs for the presence of God. The wonderful ‘O antiphons,’ sung at evening prayer and during the Gospel acclamations toward the end of Advent, speak of Christ as the ‘King of Nations and their Desire.’ The Gospel readings for the season tell of John the Baptist expressing Israel’s hope for a Messiah. Mary and Joseph look forward to the upcoming birth of a son. My friend was right. It’s all about desire,” writes Fr. Martin.

Fr. Martin points out that holy desires are different than surface wants, like wanting a new gadget or a bigger office. When Fr. Martin talks about desire, he’s “talking about our deepest longings, those that shape our lives: desires that help us know who we are to become and what we are to do. Our deep longings help know God’s desires for us, and how much God desires to be with us.”

Desire also plays a key role in a Jesuit’s life, according to Fr. Martin. “As novices, we were taught that our deep longings are important to notice. A young Jesuit who dreams of working with the poor and marginalized, or studying Scripture, or working as a retreat director, will be encouraged to pay attention to his desires. Likewise, Jesuit superiors reverence these desires when making decisions about where to assign a particular Jesuit,” he writes.

Fr. Martin concludes, “Desire is a key part of Christian spirituality because desire is a key way that God’s voice is heard in our lives. And our deepest desire, planted within us, is our Advent desire for Christ, the Desire of the Nations.”

Read the full article by Fr. Martin at the America magazine website.

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