Let Us Be Herald’s of Good News
Lady Jerusalem is mourning. Her children have died in war and been carried away in servitude, there is chaos, oppression, and God has not saved them. Where is our God?
Isaias watches this mother who mourns, climb to a high point of the temple. She looks to the horizon where her children disappeared. Then she takes off her black mourning robes, puts on her dress that speaks of God’s justice and adorns her hair with a display of glory. She witnesses that God will bring back those to whom God is bound by a covenant of love. The divine gift of joy settles over her as rebuilding life from the ruins begins. Mercy and justice are the companions who return with her children.
A 2007 movie, “The Visitor” tells the way grace breaks into the worn out life of a recently widowed college professor. With neither hope nor meaning he returns to his New York apartment that he had not visited for several months only to find that an unknown couple had moved in and were living there. They were scammed. They pack and immediately prepare to leave. Unlike himself, they are young, one a musician, the other a humble woman with an artistic eye who makes simple jewelry that she sells on the street. He is from Syria, she from Senegal. The professor does not let them get far, but calls them back until they can find a room. An unlikely, tentative friendship begins, and this over the hill professor is taught to play African drums. The story becomes one about justice, alienation and relationships. Through compassion and dialogue barriers are overcome and a life giving friendships are created. A mistaken arrest ends in a deportation, his girlfriend’s love leads her to follow him out of the country, and Walter finds his place and his joy with a group in Central Park who play very good drum music!
The joy and the hopes, the grief and anxieties of the men and women of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted – these are the joy and hopes, the grief and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. So begins the Pastoral Constitution of the Church.
It is good that we can put out Christmas lights in the dark nights of Advent. Advent candles in our homes or churches are good symbols, but all of those colored lights on trees, doorways and roofs, lining the streets, are festive! They shine in Advent’s darkness reminding us that a weary people is out there, inching their way along, stumbling and falling. They long for the peace of Jerusalem, the hope of the New Jerusalem, like scattered sheep and strays they want a shepherd, they are the anxious, the worrywarts, those with not quite enough, the sick, the down trodden and the neglected.
May grace invite us to be heralds of Good News, crying out that graciousness of heart and spirit makes straight roads and eases the burdens of tired people. We can smooth out places that are impassable because of fear and prejudice and intolerance. In barren places and wastelands we can bring life. See highways leading to our Lord that appear where paths were first cut by the humble steps of someone toward reconciliation.
Fr. William Murphy, CP is the pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Jamaica, New York.