The writings of the prophets resonate so strongly in our hearts right now. Everyone I know is weary of the coronavirus with its isolation and separation, of the deep polarization that is tearing our country apart, and with hearing about the cruelty we humans can inflict on one another. As Jesus puts it, “the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent are taking it by force.” Of course, the “prosperity preachers” say that if you follow Jesus, God will shower you with wealth, happiness, long life, and all good things. But Jesus promised peril, persecution, and the sword, with fractured families and loved ones turning against each other. In this milieu, Jesus’ words ring truer than those preachers.
Yet, amid enough suffering and tragedy to lead anyone to despair, the prophets hold out a promise: God will always have the final word. Even when we go so far astray that God has reason to call us “worm Israel” and “maggot Jacob”, God remains faithful. That is the message of Advent. When all is dark, we wait for the light. When hope seems lost, it is only obscured from our view.
The challenge is to change our hearts, attitudes, minds, and actions in ways that make us worthy of a better name and allow us to not only see but to spread that light. God can’t do it without us. So perhaps our task for the remaining two weeks of Advent is to examine whether what we have done in the first two weeks has gotten us any closer to that goal. In what ways have I softened my heart, truly listened? How have my actions protected those most vulnerable to COVID-19 so more people can live? What have I read that has opened my eyes to the pervasive and deepening suffering in our own country, and what have I done about it? Where have I most closely adhered to the teachings of Pope Francis and the Church that call for mercy, compassion, and inclusion and how can I align myself more closely to those teachings?
Christ is waiting to be born in you, in me, in our country, and in our world so the light can shine in the darkness. We need to change ourselves for that to happen. So, what are we waiting for? Time is short. Let’s act.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.