When a young village woman of Tibhrine asks Brother Luc,

How do you know when you’re in love,

he sighs, pauses for six seconds, then replies slowly,

There’s… something inside you that comes alive.

Love is not a static state, not a condition. It is something that is “alive,” a force that works in the world. It awakens those in whom it is at work, to a deeper reality. It stirs within me the possibility of being more fully alive. It is as if another being has come to live within me. So, Brother Luc goes on,

The presence of someone.

Love is a personal “presence.”

The Christian definition of God is “love”. I John 4:8 says simply,

God is love.

Christian faith affirms at its core that the heart of the universe is not an impersonal disinterested force. Love cannot be impersonal. Love always includes a dimension of relationship. Love implies the “presence of someone,” in fact the “presence” of more than one “someone.” Love cannot be singular. For love to be love, there must be “another.” This is why Christians understand God as Trinity. Trinity implies relationship.  Before the beginning of time, God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26). At the heart of God is community.

At the heart of the film “Of Gods And Men” is a deep awareness of relationship. The monks are in relationship with one another. They are in relationship with those who live around them in the impoverished and vulnerable village of Tibhirine. And, most fundamentally, they are in relationship with the mystery of Divine Presence that permeates each moment of their days and is acknowledged through their deep devotional life.

Advent invites me to look at my life of relationship. How do my relationships embody an awareness of “presence”? How am I growing in my ability to honour the presence of the other in my life?

To walk towards the Incarnation, is to journey towards an awareness of the power and importance of relationship. As I journey through Advent, I commit to seeking ways that I might honour more deeply the presence of the other in my life.