Advent reminds us of what is promised and how it can change us
by Sister Ann Rehrauer
Maybe it’s just my perception, but it seems that Advent arrives at just the right moment each year with the message we need to hear.
As a nation we’ve been barraged for months by contentious ads and phone calls and polling in preparation for the midterm elections. And whether we are pleased or not with the results of the vote, we are all wounded and wearied by the divisive rhetoric and antagonism of the process.
As a Church, we’d like to think we are better at handling our disagreements, and yet Pope Francis has had to call us to a deeper unity, especially in the Eucharist where we celebrate the Paschal Mystery, the victory of Christ over sin and death and division. Christians still argue about Latin vs. English, orientation of the celebrant, prayer posture and the meaning of reverence, and whose approach is more faithful to God’s vision of what worship should be.
Our hearts long for what the Prophet Isaiah promised in Sunday’s reading – a time and place of peace and harmony where wickedness and division are not overcome by violence but rather by wisdom, justice and words of peace. We long for a shepherd who seeks out the lost – because we are sometimes the lost ones. We look for leadership guided by the Spirit who will bring hope for us and enable us to witness to that outrageous hope.
While the Prophet’s promise will come to fulfillment, we know it will only happen when we act upon John the Baptist’s challenge in today’s Gospel – that each of us repents from our divisive words and behaviors at home, in Church, and in our community and brings forth good fruits as evidence of our repentance.
It sounds simple, but it calls forth from us attitudes of obedience, suffering, surrender and setting aside our personal agendas, paying attention to the Word of God, and a belief and hope in the God who continues to love all of us and to believe in us. We know we continue to cope with weakness, blindness, prejudice, and even malice sometimes.
Advent is the yearly reminder that God, who loved humanity enough to send his Son, is not disappointed in us and will bring good out of evil and still looks on us with favor and delight – and calls us to do the same for each other.
During these days of waiting, may we ponder that (or whom) for which we wait. May our Advent prayer be for the coming of the fullness of the Kingdom, and may our prayer be accompanied by our commitment be to help bring that about by our faith put into action as peacemakers and people of hope.