We just celebrated the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. And now, with the entire Church we draw even closer to the great feast of Christmas. Like all of you, I find myself to be swamped with the seemingly unending process of campaigning and posturing for what is undeniably one of the most significant positions in our country. I say “swamped” because it is as if we are treading water these days and not really getting any closer to those elements of truth and clarity that ideally lead us toward a prudent and sound judgment about just who it is that should lead our country. The only authority that is being evoked, it seems to me, is the authority that taps into feelings and emotions of anger and mistrust. Sadly these will not lead us to the best end we can hope for in this great country of ours.
Jesus himself had to face the politics and conflicts of ordinary life himself, didn’t he? Interestingly in our Gospel today we find the Lord being put into an unusual position by the chief priests and elders. Only desirous of trapping Jesus and gaining popular appeal, these devious men challenged the authority and truthfulness of his mission and his teachings. Yet, Jesus refused to give in to the hollow debate and made it very clear that his authority, the truth of all he was about, would one day be revealed without falling into the game of devious words and clever debate.
For me, as we draw closer to Christmas, there is a message here. The Lord comes to shed his light on the world, to bring truth and goodness that will shine in the darkness and will be known for itself. If we want to follow Jesus and bring a real breath of fresh air into the popular arena today perhaps the best thing we can do is to resist the easy siding with those who appeal to our fears and worries and, instead, embrace regardless of cost, the path that comes from the only one who can claim that, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” Perhaps the invitation at this point in Advent waiting is to breathe in a few deep breaths, listen carefully to all that is said measured by the light of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus, and then wait even longer until the truth becomes clearer to us. The Lord will show us the way. In the meantime, rejoice for Wisdom is very near!
Fr. Pat Brennan, C.P. is the director of Saint Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat and Conference Center, Detroit, Michigan.