Advent is a hopeful season—the beginning of a new liturgical year and a time to focus on the vibrant and joyful future that God promises. Too often, though, when we think about the future, we start speculating, worrying, strategising, as a way to fend off the disconcerting sense that we’re not as firmly in control of our lives as we would like to be.
But God calls us to think about the future in a very different way: as a kind of homecoming, a coming to rest in the place where we most truly belong and are most ardently loved. As we launch into the season of Advent, then, our stories this week all touch in some way on this idea of ‘home’ in the life of faith.
Fr Justin Glyn SJ, who has been legally blind since birth, firmly believes that the Church should be a home for all the people of God. Recently, in preparation for the upcoming Synod on Synodality, he travelled to Rome to help shape a document on the experiences and roles of people with disability in the Church. In anticipation of International Day of People with Disabilities this Saturday, we hear from Fr Justin about his experiences as a priest, a lawyer and a passionate advocate for people with disability.
We also hear from Christian Bergmann, who recently made the journey back to Melbourne after two years in Perth. He reflects on what it really means to come home, and how a biblical understanding of home might help us enter more fully and generously into the season of Advent.
As Christian observes, a home is ultimately a place to be shared, a place where we are able to connect deeply with others. Last week, at a luncheon hosted by Archbishop Peter A Comensoli at the Park Hyatt, the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne launched the Melbourne Catholic Professionals (MCP) network, with the aim of helping people to find their true home in the Church through opportunities to encounter other like-minded people, build professional relationships, form new friendships and live out their Catholic faith and values.
Today, on St Andrew’s Day, we also hear about the launch of another exciting initiative, the St Andrew’s Network, which aims to support men and women who are interested in the Catholic Church, especially those with a non-Catholic but Christian or religious background. One of the network’s co-founders, Nigel Zimmerman, tells us about his own experience of coming to the Catholic Church from a background and ministry in another faith tradition, and about how the idea for the network came about. ‘We felt ourselves coming home when we entered the Catholic Church,’ he says. ‘The peace we found in the Catholic tradition motivates us to have open hearts and minds to others on similar journeys.’
While our homes should be places of security and freedom, sadly there are many around the world whose homes, lives and families are threatened by conflict and persecution. Last week, St Patrick’s Cathedral was bathed in red light for Red Wednesday, as people from across the city gathered inside to pray and stand in solidarity with persecuted Christians around the world. And this week, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference launched an Advent Appeal for the Ukrainian people, with the aim of providing financial support to people in the war-torn nation as winter arrives.
When we contemplate the brokenness of our world, it’s encouraging to remember that our true home, the kingdom of God, is unlocked for us by the coming of the Christ Child—the one who came to make his home among us so that we might find our way home to him. May God bless you richly on your homeward journey this Advent.