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Advent 2018: Jesus Lights the Dark

By Mike Jordan Laskey

November 30, 2018 — In a much-beloved Christmas episode of the TV show “The West Wing,” one of the president’s advisors, Josh Lyman, is in the middle of a personal crisis after a traumatic event. Josh’s boss, chief of staff Leo McGarry, who’s been through some extremely difficult stuff himself, empathizes with his friend and tells him this story: 

“This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

“Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I'm down in this hole, can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

“Then a friend walks by. ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me, can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I've been down here before and I know the way out.’” 

I thought of this powerful scene when I heard Fr. Tim Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, share a reflection on this year’s Advent season: “How often have you used the expression ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’? So often for us, going into the darkness is a time when we look for light. But Advent isn’t really about looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. Because in the season of Advent, Jesus comes with us into the tunnel, comes with us into the darkness, so that we might see his light at Christmas.” 

Jesus isn’t waiting for us outside the tunnel. He doesn’t look down on us from outside the hole. He comes right to our dark moments of suffering or anxiety or uncertainty and says, “I’m with you.” This is what Advent and Christmas are all about: The name “Emmanuel” — used for Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew’s nativity story — literally means “God with us.” And how we so desperately need God with us in this dark time for our church family. 

This Advent season, we ask Jesus to light the dark. We pray for that light to inflame us with brighter faith, hope and love. 

First Sunday of Advent (readings):

Light the Dark, Jesus 
Download the prayer

Dear Jesus, 
Brother, friend and savior,
It is a difficult time to be a Catholic.
Stories of abuse make us angry and break our hearts.
We are wandering in the dark. We are weary. 

Light the dark, Jesus. 

But we know you accompany us in our suffering, Jesus.
You do not leave us alone. 
You do not wait for us like the light at the end of a tunnel.
You bring the light in. 

Light the dark, Jesus. 

When we sing “O come, O come, Emmanuel” this Advent,
We are asking you to be “God-with-us”: 
God with us in our wandering,
God with us in our pain,
God with us in our confusion,
God with us in our time of darkness. 

Light the dark, Jesus.  

Advent is a time of expectant waiting. 
Find us ready to receive your light at Christmas. 
Bring that light of your love to our church family and to all the world. 
Inflame our hearts with your radiant faith, hope and love.
Please hurry. We need you with us. 

Light the dark, Jesus. 

Amen. 





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Our Lady of the Oaks Retreat House, located in Grand Coteau, La., has provided a beautiful setting for retreats since 1938.