Each week of Advent, we’ll provide an Ignatian prayer for you, inspired by a video from Arts & Faith: Advent.
The video and prayer for the Third Week of Advent, Cycle B, is based on John 1:6–8, 19–28. The art is Saint John the Baptist Preaching by Anton Raphael Mengs.
“Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”
As we begin this time of quiet prayer, I invite you to find a comfortable place to sit with your back straight and your legs planted on the ground. Allow yourself to notice your breathing. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Take a few moments and close your eyes, preparing yourself to listen to what God may be saying to you during this time of prayer. As you sit with your eyes closed, use these or similar words: “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.” When you are ready, open your eyes and pray.
One Whom You Do Not Recognize
It’s early evening. You are walking downtown in a large city. It’s a few weeks before Christmas, and the streets are filled with people shopping. The sidewalks are so crowded that it’s hard to walk without bumping into someone. Your life has been so busy lately that you haven’t had time to think about Christmas or shopping or anything related to the season. As you walk, you wonder why you even decided to come downtown tonight. You knew it would be crowded. You knew it would be difficult just crossing the street, but something drew you here, something that you felt deep inside.
You decide to sit in a café for a few minutes to let your mind settle. You take your coffee, but even this place is so full there aren’t any seats available. You notice someone sitting at a table alone. “Do you mind if I sit here?” you ask him.
He looks up. You’ve seen his face before, but you can’t remember where. “Not at all,” he says with a smile.
You take off your coat and sit down. The man continues to look at you. At first it makes you feel uncomfortable. Then he asks, “What are you looking for tonight?”
The question strikes you as odd, but there is something about his face and voice that make you want to open up and speak freely. “I’m not shopping, that’s for sure,” you say laughing. “Why do you ask?”
He smiles and says, “I think you know me.”
You look at him and again that feeling that you do know him comes over you. “Your face seems familiar. Perhaps we’ve met before. Are you from around here?”
His eyes seem to look deep inside of you. His smile is warm and inviting. “I am the one you’ve been searching for. I am he.”
His words penetrate deep inside you. You feel a sense of peace and calm, a feeling that he knows all about you and sits there without judgment. “All you need to do is open your eyes. I am here. I am everywhere. Just look.”
It is then you know. It is then you understand. You look down at your coffee unable to speak but feeling more alive than you have in years. When you look up, he is gone. You look around the café, but you don’t see him. You look out the window, and there he is, smiling at you. He points to his eyes and says, “Just look. I am here.”
And then he disappears into the crowd.
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.