By Heidi Hess Saxton
Today marks the last week of the liturgical year, the solemnity of Christ the King. Next week, Advent begins – a time to wait for the dawning of the Light of the World. Each year that light dawns, presenting a fresh opportunity to keep it ablaze in our hearts, stoking the fires of God’s love with small works of mercy described in today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46):
“Then the righteous will answer him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
And the king will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
In the introduction of my book Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa urges each of us to recognize in this season an invitation to renewal.
The season of Advent is like springtime in nature,
When everything is renewed and so is fresh and healthy.
Advent is also meant to do this to us –
To refresh us and make us healthy,
To be able to receive Christ in whatever form he may come to us.
How has Christ the King made himself known to you in this past year? Mother Teresa often spoke of seeing Jesus in “distressing disguise” as she worked with her sisters among the poorest of the poor in the slums of India and around the world. She understood that Our Lord does not always come to us as that appealing, helpless infant in the manger at Bethlehem. Sometimes we have to look past the squalor and pain to see his Sacred heart.
This year I saw that heart in the hurricanes and earthquakes, and in the plight of those forcibly separated from their earthly goods and left to the mercies of those who gave from their excess. I traveled to Costa Rica, and saw Jesus in the big, brown eyes of indigenous children; returning home, I found him again in the joyful embrace of my elderly mother in her memory care facility. In the challenges of raising teenagers, in the daily blessings and offerings of married life … at work and at rest, the Lord calls: “Will you do this, too, for me?”
Help me, Lord, to experience your presence in the ordinary moments of my life. Refresh and strengthen me to do “for the least of these” not just to feel good about myself, but to raise you up in my corner of the world, the King of Heaven who comes once more as a helpless, tiny infant. Keep me always close to your most Sacred Heart as I go on living my thanksgiving for all you have done for me. Amen.
About the Author:
Heidi Hess Saxton a wife and adoptive mother, contributing writer to WINE, and author of Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta and the follow-up companion, Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Servant, released January 2017). Heidi received a graduate degree in theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit in 2012, having converted to the Catholic faith in 1995 from the evangelical tradition. She met her husband, Craig, at the University of Michigan Ballroom Dance Club, and lives with her family (including two special-needs teenagers, a longsuffering Aussie shepherd and a snuggly Chiweenie) near South Bend, Indiana.