In my sophomore year at Boston College, I started working as a teaching assistant in the Computer Science department of the School of Management.  I worked there for the next three years.  I also worked in the Computer Center, starting in my junior year, and did some programming for the Budget Department of Boston College.  While I was going to school I also had some other jobs.  It was not unusual for me to work 30-60 hours in week while going to school full time.  (Let’s just say that sleep was not a priority for me in college.)  Boston College really did not give me much financial aid because they thought my parents should be able to help me.  (They were, of course, wrong.)  At the beginning of my senior year, I received a letter from the Financial Aid department asking me to come in and talk to them about a potential scholarship for which I might be eligible.  I made the appointment and went to see the financial aid counselor.  The woman brought up my records and saw how much money I made the previous year.  She looked at me and said, “You work too much!”  I responded, “Well, if BC gave me more help, I wouldn’t have to work so many hours.”  She gave me a perplexed look.  She continued to analyze my records and then told me, “You have two jobs on campus and that is not allowed.”  (I did not correct her and tell her that I actually had three.)  “You need to quit one of the jobs.”  I replied, “But how do I pay my bills?”  She very curtly said, “That’s really not my problem.  You need to decide which job you will keep.”

After the meeting, I went to speak to the Dean of the School of Management.  His office was next to the Computer Science office and so I got to know him and his secretaries.  In fact, from time to time he would give me a ride home to Hudson since he lived in Sudbury.  I explained to him all that happened and told him I did not know what I would do.  I needed both jobs to pay for school and rent.  It soon became apparent that I was not the only one in this position: there were actually four of us working more than one job.  We all decided that we would stay on as teaching assistants and quit our Computer Center job.  So, the Dean spoke to the Vice-President of Computer Services, who was not happy that he would be losing four of his best user assistants in the computer lab.  The two of them ended up going to the Vice-President of Financial Aid, to get the rule changed so that a person could be both a teaching assistant in Computer Science and a user assistant in the computer lab.  Naturally, I thought that since this was settled, I was all set.  So, I made another appointment to see my financial aid counselor.  When I went to see her, she again brought up my records and saw that I still held two jobs.  She told me, “You still have not quit one of the jobs.”  I then told her about the change that had been made.  She got up and went to speak with her supervisor about the issue.  She came back into the room and told me, “You can keep the two jobs, but if you do you cannot receive the scholarship.”  I looked at her and responded,  “But how do I pay my rent and my other bills.”  She again replied, “That is not my problem.”  I had no choice but to turn down the scholarship.

What is the point of my telling you this story, particularly during Advent?  Well… when I received the letter that started this unbelievable journey, I was filled with hope; for the first time, I believed BC might actually help me financially.  Until then, all I heard from them was that my parents, who were both teachers, made too much money for me to receive any significant aid.  However, I still wanted to go to BC, and so I worked really hard to make that happen.  But, it was always a struggle.  I was never completely certain from year to year how this would happen, but I always trusted that somehow things would work out.  In the end, I felt like BC simply pulled the rug out from under me.  It was a tantalizing promise that never materialized.  And that happens to all of us from time to time.  As a result, it can be hard for us to begin to trust again in other promises made to us.

Today we celebrate Gaudete Sunday.  The pink candle represents the dawn that is starting to break—that Christ is ever nearer.  It is intended to remind us that God’s promises always come true, and that we simply need to be a little patient with Him.  Christmas is the celebration of a promise come true.  God promised through the centuries that He would fix what we broke.  He promised that He would make salvation a reality for us.  He made this impossible promise come true in the birth of Christ, who alone is our salvation.  Jesus came as a babe.  He lived a fully and complete human life.  And, He died on the cross in order for us to live.  He showed us what it truly means to live as a human being.  He showed us that sin is not intended to define us, but rather, our relationship with God is what defines us.  And that relationship requires us to be humble and obedient to the will of the Father.  But, also, God will give us all the help we need to be faithful and live a truly human life as He intends for us.  We simply must impress upon our minds and hearts the promise that is Christ and center our lives in Him.

We now await the final promise to be realized—that Christ is coming again.  And this is a promise we can put our trust in.  God will not pull the rug out from under us.  We await with joy and hope for our loving Savior.  It is in waiting for this promise to come true that gives meaning to our lives.  Come, Lord Jesus!  We await this promise to be realized by seeking to be Christ in the lives of others.  We are intended to be his presence while we await his final return.  Come, Lord Jesus!  As Teresa of Avila said, “We are called to be his hands and feet.”  May we truly prepare for Him by allowing others to see Christ in us through our words and actions.  Come, Lord Jesus!

He is coming!  His promise will be realized.  Will you be ready?  Come, Lord Jesus!

If you have any questions about anything, please do not hesitate to ask me directly, or send your questions to me at fr.brian@chelmsfordcatholic.org.

Please keep me in your prayers.

In Christ,

Fr. Brian