Editor’s Note: Former DCSC volunteer Julia Pinto reexamines the gift of repeated and applied knowledge to her faith life, especially during this yearly season of Advent. She shares this through her lens as a teacher, while conversely contemplating and reflecting as a student who still has much to learn.
There is a common phrase about there being a vast difference between knowing about someone and really knowing them as a person. How can I truly know my friends without spending meaningful time with them and being curious about their personalities, thoughts, and feelings? The same applies to my relationship with the God of the universe. “I want to know You, Lord / Like I know a friend.” Perhaps the best way for me to grow in my knowledge of God is from the source Himself: from His Word, from receiving Him in the Eucharist, from spending time in silence, soaking in His loving presence in and around me. (This is not to say that I do this well by any means.)
As a high school teacher, I have realized more and more how easily and quickly knowledge can be forgotten if not mentally processed and applied regularly. My students will absorb information and be able to use it and build on it, only to draw blank faces when I ask about those same ideas a few weeks later. Though this frustrates me as someone who works hard to help them learn and grow as individuals, how often have I found myself in the same situation time and time again in learning lessons from my Good Teacher? He has repeatedly shown me His ways and taken me to the mountaintops, only for me to soon forget Him and all that He taught me. “Why?” I ask myself. Probably because I have not taken time to “remember the marvelous work He has done” in my life and throughout the history of humanity and apply it to my current circumstances and decisions.
The Advent and Christmas seasons used to be so exciting to me as a child, since the stories and carols were fresh to my young mind. As I have experienced these same seasons through the years, the novelty has mostly faded into an annual routine. My instinct is to view Advent as past knowledge – stuff I already have heard enough times to be able to repeat most of it verbatim. However, each Advent brings another opportunity to gain something new as I listen to the Scripture passages and reflect on the first and second comings of Christ. Maybe it provides me a structured way to remember what God has done for me, bringing that knowledge to mind and allowing me to build on those ideas. If it were not for Advent, I would probably lose this precious knowledge that Jesus was long foretold, coming into our world as a vulnerable, immigrant baby, proving the fulfillment and truth of God’s promises, and choosing to live a human life like you and me. Reflecting on this makes me grateful for the Church’s guidance and wisdom in helping us retain and constantly process our Knowledge of God.
Thank You, Lord, for being the best teacher and understanding that we often have to go back to learning the basics, since there are so many distractions and worries in life. Please help us to know You more through this Advent season and hold on to this life-giving knowledge.
Reflection Question: How is God calling you to use the knowledge from within this Advent season in your life? What can we learn, or re-learn, at this moment?