Advent Hope at Campion Hall

Campion Hall Chaplain Dr Brian Mac Cuarta SJ shares an advent reflection.

Close to Campion Hall, in these chilly evenings, along a footpath sheltered by a concrete awning, one notices a series of white sleeping bags.  About ten people are sleeping there. They have no home. They remind us of the couple who once sought shelter in a stable, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The birth on the Bethlehem hillside brings hope to all who are struggling to find the security, the belonging, and the warmth we associate with home – those near at hand, and those in distant places, victims of war, in Gaza-Israel, in Ukraine, in South Sudan. We note the engagement of Hall members with refugees, with the homeless, and in deep political and theological reflection; in the depth and seriousness of these commitments, we meet with others of good will, desiring to bring peace on earth.

Many contemporaries, especially the young, are also profoundly concerned for our common home, the earth. They are yearning for ecological hope.  Good news: there is also a cosmic significance to the birth of the Bethlehem child. This we dimly grasp. Yet Christian faith intuits that the birth of Jesus heralds the redemption also of the cosmos. That Jesus became one of us is a divine message of hope also for the earth, humanity’s common home. The scientists have presented clearly the evidence for climate change, and the human contribution to that process. But they recognize that they are not capable of changing our behaviour. For that, an ecological conversion, a change of heart, is required. The Advent season, especially in the figure of the prophet John the Baptist, crying in the wilderness, calls us to conversion, both as individuals, but also as community. We rejoice in the contribution of the Laudato Si Institute to articulating a Christian vision of care for our common home.

Deep academic reflection on how God communicates with humanity is a thread in what Campion Hall contributes. This concern is complemented by helping people notice, through prayer, how God is at work in the flow of an individual’s life, in their desires, hopes, failures and restarts. Hall members helped as guides in the recent Week of Guided Prayer, offered by the University Chaplaincy, in which fifty-five people participated.

A lighted candle is placed at the window on Christmas Eve, in Ireland, to guide and welcome Mary and Joseph on their search for somewhere to stay. May the small flicker of our faith in the Bethlehem baby lighten our darkness, and bring hope, peace and reconciliation to a waiting world.