Messages filled with joy greet us as we begin the Advent Season of our 2012 liturgical year. In the beautiful Old Testament reading we hear a message of hope. Jesus, the Word of the Lord, will bring peace and will lead all of us to the mountain of God. No more war, nation no longer rising against nation – Jesus is coming and he will bring peace. Isn’t this the message we all have been waiting to hear even in our day?
The psalmist tells us to rejoice! "Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord." I spent Thanksgiving with family in Texas and as I hear the words of the psalm, I think of my six year old granddaughter, Erin, who ran with unbridled happiness to greet me when I arrived. That’s the way I picture us going to the house of the Lord, spinning and twirling and so filled with joy that we break into spontaneous running to see our God.
In the Gospel, the Centurion expresses faith that is so deep that he knows that Jesus has only to say the word to heal his servant.
Hope, rejoice and have faith! That is the message of Advent. This is how we are to get ready for the birth of Christ – with the heart of a child. Do we fill our lives with hope, do we rejoice and do we have faith in the coming of Christ? Let us pray for the heart of a child- untethered by anxieties and concerns for it is with the heart of a child, filled with hope, rejoicing and faith that we can truly be ready for Christ.
The readings also tell us that the Kingdom will be made up of more than the people of Israel. All nations shall stream toward the mountain of the Lord. We hear Jesus saying, "many will come from the east and the west." Sometimes we find ourselves thinking that only people who look like us, think like us, pray like us will enter the Kingdom. These readings clearly tell us that the Kingdom of God is for everyone!
As we journey toward Christmas, we are called to work for peace, to live in hope, to rejoice daily and to act with kindness and generosity to all – because all are beckoned to the mountain of the Lord and all are called to have the heart of a child.
Mary Lou Butler is a former staff member and a longtime partner of the Passionists in California.