Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle C (Dec. 23, 2018)

After years of political turmoil, bombings, and the attack on a Russian passenger jet, the number of foreign visitors to Egypt is in precipitous decline. The tourism industry is in crisis. In response, the Egyptian government is eager to discover, and open to the public, archeological treasures so spectacular that they will inspire tourists to return. As part of this effort, the Great Pyramid of Giza is being subjected to a regimen of scans using infrared thermography, muon radiography and 3D reconstruction. The thermal scans look for temperature differences in the rock that could indicate hidden passages or chambers in the pyramid. Now scientists have found what they are calling an “impressive anomaly” in the stone, which might lead to a major discovery.

It occurs to me that the thermal scans seeking hidden chambers in the Great Pyramid are analogous to the manner in which God continually scans our hearts in search of hidden empty places. God seeks “significant anomalies” in each of us – indications that we are not, after all, entirely filled up with anxiety, selfish pre-occupations, self-loathing and ultimately meaningless mind games. God never abandons the hope that, despite all appearances to the contrary, we have hearts of flesh and not of stone. And while the government of Egypt doubtless hopes that empty spaces in the Great Pyramid will contain treasure, the empty places in our hearts are themselves treasured by God. For while the Egyptians hope that droves of tourists will rush into any hidden chambers found in the pyramid, the grace of God will rush into the hidden chambers of our hearts, and accomplish the 3D reconstruction of our relationship with Christ.

As the holy season of Advent draws to a close, let’s allow God’s mercy to expel the spiritual clutter accumulated during the old year, and so prepare a chamber in our hearts to receive the Holy Child who comes to us at Christmas. Then, while there may be no room for him at the inn, there will be room for him in us.”

Rev. Charles B. Gordon, C.S.C., is co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland. He writes and records a regular blog called “Fractio Verbi.

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