Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose, and Vicar General for
Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coincidence or Providence?
Think for a moment about how you met your spouse or best friend. Do you ever wonder if that was a coincidence or Providence? The number of things that could have happened did not happen and then you ended up meeting this person and some 25 years later, here you are.
In today’s Gospel, Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and on the sound of her voice it says “the infant in the womb leapt for joy.” People who do not have faith would say, “Ah, it was a kick in the womb; that is what babies do, they kick.” One could say it was just coincidence. As people of faith, we do not see it as coincidence, we see it as Providence; that the child in the womb, John the Baptist, even before he was born, was able to recognize and know the voice of the Mother of the Lord, so he leapt in the womb. The phrase “leapt” would be probably better translated “danced” in the womb. That is what faith does; faith allows us to see with different eyes; to hear with different ears. Sometimes we get carried away, even we, people of faith, do not see what we are called to see; do not hear what we are called to hear. It is not because it is not happening; it is because of something inside of us. We are just too busy; too distracted; too consumed with so much of our own lives.
Many years ago, I met Michael and his dog Spooky who were experiencing homelessness in Portland. It changed my life and the life of Holy Spirit Parish as we have since opened up Village House, a shelter for women experiencing homelessness. I have often wondered how many other Michaels I passed by on the streets but never, ever noticed? It haunts me somewhat because it has meant that I have not seen Providence in my life. I have not accepted the invitation from God for deeper conversion.
Advent, especially the last week of Advent, is one of a great challenge for us because we get so busy with Christmas preparation, with the parties, the gifts, the cards and you know the way it goes. My fear is that we lose all opportunity to see Providence in our life and things go right by us.
I suspect I still miss lots of opportunities where God’s invitation is put out to us. Sometimes, it is the meeting of a new person; sometimes it is the meeting of a person we have known for a long time, who we are invited to ask certain questions; sometimes it is a joy that has happened to us, something new; something wonderful; sometimes it is something painful; sometimes something awful has happened to us and we have to dig deep to find God’s Providence in the midst of the pain.
Today, may we not put things down to coincidence. May we recognize the moment of Providence; God is breaking through.