By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
If we were traveling through a long tunnel, the halfway point would be the darkest. We can’t see where we came from, and we probably can’t see where we are heading to. In the middle of that darkness, we might be tempted to go back to where we came from, to the old, the familiar, but then we spot it. A sign that says we’ve made it halfway! We’ve come this far, we just need a little encouragement to keep going. We pause, take a breath, and rejoice. We then take one more step in the right direction and we are now closer to the end than to the beginning. We can do this; no point going back now. We are halfway there!
As I pause and think of the words “we are halfway there”, a song from the 80’s pops in my head and sings “living on a prayer, take my hand…we are living on a prayer.” And just like that, a hit from the 80’s (Bon Jovi), opens my eyes to the universality of this experience. We all know what it feels like to be in a dark place without a sense of direction, sometimes wondering if we are going around in circles. Are we even getting anywhere? Is there even a point in continuing to try? When our sins, our faults, our failings mock us saying, “Well hello there, welcome back my friend, why don’t you just stay here in this familiar place, why continue to fight? Look, you are the same you were two weeks ago, two months ago, two years ago.” And we begin to listen to the lies, and we think that all our efforts have brought us nowhere, but then we go to Mass and hear: “Be strong and do not fear. Behold, our God will come, and he will save us.” (Communion Antiphon 3rd Sunday of Advent) Indeed, He will come and save us. Every time we fall, every time we fail, every time we look away, He will extend His arm and invite us back to Him. If we stay close to the Sacraments, even in the dark halfway points of life, we will see the signs. We will be encouraged and strengthened as we live on a prayer. “When that time comes, I will be your guide, when that time comes, I will gather you in” (Zep 3:20).
Tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday, the midpoint of the penitential season of Advent. We have spent two weeks preparing for Christmas, and we have two more weeks left of waiting. And at this point, Mother Church invites us to pause, take a breath, and REJOICE! “Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). See how far you’ve come with the Lord walking right beside you. See all the graces He has bestowed on you and be confident “that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). Rejoice, and then keep going, because the Light of the World is coming, indeed, “the Lord is near” (Phil 4:4).