Isaiah 45:6b-8, 18, 21b-25
How often I like to characterize Advent as that silent, still time of patient waiting. Of course, this is true. If it is anything, Advent is a time for our longing hearts to admit that we are all so incomplete and will continue to be so until the Lord comes and fills us with his new life. Advent shall always be that time of waiting and longing, hoping and dreaming! But it is also a time when God reveals Himself as the one and only power that can bring salvation to an empty, misguided world. Isaiah certainly makes this clear in today’s reading. Repetition is Isaiah’s tool as he forcefully cries out with great power and might: I am the Lord, there is no other! At least four times in our first reading do we hear these words. I am the Lord, there is no other. Was it not I, the Lord, besides whom there is no other God? There is no just and saving God but me! There is great power in these words for us today and, while we long for stillness, calm, and peace, we are also blasted with the unforgettable reminder that there is only one God, one Lord, who will bring about all that we long for. There is only one God who is the source of our salvation.
These words of Isaiah remind me of an occurrence that recently took place here at Mater Dolorosa just about two weeks ago, an event that surpassed anything that lifelong residents could ever recall having happened. At about nine o’clock in the evening, as forecasted by the weather services, some unbelievable winds came blasting their way across the mountains immediately behind us to the north. These winds exceeded hurricane force, topping 130 to 140 mile an hour winds! I have never experienced anything like this in my life; nor had the older San Gabrielinoes who have spent eighty plus years here in the San Gabriel Valley. Immense trees were blown over as if they were nothing but weak, skinny sticks in the ground. Some very exquisite garden areas in the valley lost hundreds and hundreds of precious, invaluable trees. All in all, thousands of trees were lost, not to mention homes and automobiles crushed under the weight of these immense trees. Here at Mater Dolorosa we were very blessed and only lost four large trees; it could have been so much worse! Yet, these winds were for me, personally, a reminder of the mighty voice of God, crying out the words, "I am God and there is no other!" It was if nature was reminding us after the foolish post-Thanksgiving scurry to buy yet more material things that all of this is but rubbish, soon to be blown away by the wind. Nothing lasts but the voice of God. Nothing is accomplished without the power and the action of God Himself! Nothing matters but God! That was my experience two weeks ago with the amazing winds, the powerful reminder that the power of God is greater than all else.
This Advent, just like you, I long for peace in the world; I dream of tranquility and joy reigning in the hearts of one and all. Yet, given the mighty winds that still make a powerful noise in my head, I am also reminded with Isaiah that God, our almighty and all powerful God alone will bring about his justice to this world.
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.