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“Darkness rises.  Light rises to meet it.” (Star Wars: The Last Jedi promotional tagline)

Have you seen Star Wars: the Last Jedi? It opened here in Wexford yesterday.

Its main interest for us in Ireland is the heavily featured  Ahch - To, the secluded island which in reality is Skellig Michael, one of the two Skellig Islands near County Kerry. The rocky island actually remains virtually unchanged for the Star Wars films, and all those steps Rey climbs are really there and the little huts already existed on the island. Skellig Michael served as a home to Christian monks from the sixth or seventh century until the 12th or 13th century, and the stone beehives provided them with shelter.

The theme of the whole Star Wars series resonates with our Advent journey - the struggle of good over evil.

Waiting is hard: waiting for salvation is the hardest of all. Some of us give up. Some of us keep slogging, even in pain and terror. Sometimes, waiting can seem like failure.

How seriously am I awaiting the Lord’s Coming? What am I doing to align myself with God’s plan and purpose, not merely my own wishes?

Discipline is necessary. No matter what our spiritual powers or our zeal, resistance to evil doesn’t come naturally. At this most self-indulgent time of year, we need discipline more than ever.

How fit am I to resist evil and stand up for the reign of Christ? What more can I do to train? Who are the masters and mentors to whom I should be turning?

Evil is attractive. The lie of limitless power. The lure of winning all our bets. The high that comes from using other people, other creatures as objects, slaves to our lust or our greed or our need to be better than. Hate that feels as good, we’re told, as love. The darkness glitters, and beckons the best of us.

Where does the darkness glitter most for me? To what am I most tempted? What am I doing to help keep my vision clear and my heart single?

The Messiah isn’t the Messiah we're looking for. This was true at the time of Jesus’ first coming in the flesh – a baby? a carpenter’s son? a guy who hangs out with sinners, and it’s true now. We want our Saviour to conform to our expectations: of the right bloodline, looking like us,  fulfilling the right set of prophecies. But our God is a God of surprises.

How much thought have I really given to Jesus’ Second Coming? What do I long for him to do or be? What expectations might I need to throw away?

Choose companions wisely. The thing about not knowing when The End will come is that it could be any moment. Resistance to evil is never going to be a matter of majorities. We need to listen for the still, small voice, not the roar of the crowd.

Who are the companions who help me most on my Advent journey? If I knew that today would be “the end of all things,” with whom would I want to be?

Keep hope alive. Until the time comes, it’s the most powerful and underrated force in the universe. Resisting evil means resisting cynicism, indifference, and the mockery of innocence. Those are things we use to shield ourselves after we’ve let the spark of hope die

How am I actively resisting the threats to hope? From what sources is my hope fed? How am I being a sign of hope in the world?