And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. —Isaiah 35:10
“You can’t go home again.”
Whether it’s a college student returning to see his parents at Christmas, a family visiting their home parish after moving away, or someone attending a high school reunion, we become aware of the truth that a departure sets in motion a series of events that alters forever the nature of the relationship between the one who leaves and the one who was left.
The prophet Isaiah tells of the exiles returning to rebuild after years of captivity. Notice the phrase he uses: “they shall obtain joy and gladness.” The joyful singing prevails as the sorrow and sighing “flee away.” It is a process, requiring a silent acknowledgement of the necessity for ransom, of all that was lost in the interim. So if a catch in your throat arises as you sing, if your eyes glisten too brightly to see the words clearly, be not afraid. The joy is coming yet.
In the case of Mother Teresa, finding her spiritual family meant losing every single member of her family of origin, left behind in Albania as she sought God’s will in the slums of Calcutta. It is perhaps because of that painful loss that she went to such great lengths to build community and empathy among her own Sisters as well as her Co-Workers, each of them living in solidarity with the others no matter where on earth they lived. Said Saint Teresa:
Our first great responsibility is to be a family, a community, revealing first to one another something of God’s love and concern and tenderness.
To what family have you been called? Have you been giving yourself as wholeheartedly as you would like? What have you taught your own children about what it means to be part of a family?
A Moment to Reflect
When have you felt nostalgic about things you experienced in holidays past? Where is “home” for you?
What can you do this week to recapture some of those favorites? What can you share, remember, and celebrate?
A Moment to Pray
Lord, thank you for the gift of memory, even the sad memories that are a part of my life’s story. Thank you, too, for the opportunities I have every day to share my joy as a redeemed member of the body of Christ! Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
In Mother Teresa’s Own Words
If Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to make a home for Jesus, would they choose our home? In our community, does our life of poverty resemble that of the manger at Bethlehem? During this season of Advent, let us meditate on poverty so that we might love it and live it. To experience the joy and freedom of poverty as Jesus did we need the surrender of obedience, for that is the foundation of his love.