Thursday of the Third Week of Advent
When I have had a significant disagreement with a friend or a quarrel with a loved one, there is nothing so unsettling as the aftermath, the intervening time before a resolution and return to peace (hopefully) takes place.
During that time, my thoughts return often to the disagreement. I concoct phantom rebuttals in my head or nurse my psychic wound, making myself even more upset. My nerves are jangled. And then…one of us phones or we talk things out face to face. It literally feels like a wall is crumbling and suddenly fresh air streams in! The tension subsides and life feels right again. I can breathe!
Today’s first reading describes the wonderful lushness of life that unfolds when things are made right with God. Jerusalem and her people, likened to a barren wife, have been forgiven their wrongdoings and swept up with great tenderness into the loving arms of God. Suddenly, where there was painful desolation, life bursts forth! A promise of fulfillment, a covenant of enduring love is made with these prodigal sons and daughters.
Just as it was for them, it is a painful thing for us, too, not to be right with God. Isn’t that what "sin" really is? We feel lost, burdened; our relationship with God has been wounded and our spirituality may be on life-support. But as the Gospel reveals, in that barren place, that desert of isolation, there is a prophet urging us to look to the One who is coming, who has come to bring us Life everlasting.
As we celebrate this season of Advent, let’s await the birth of the baby Jesus with great joy. He is the covenant of God’s love made flesh! In seeking out the manger, we are acknowledging our trust that there is a way back from the desert of our separation from God and all that is good. So small, so tender, so full of life, the child opens wide our world and our hearts. He confirms with his presence God’s enormous love, and, Alleluia, we can feel right with God, ourselves and our neighbor once more.
Nancy Nickel is director of communications at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.