Second Sunday of Advent
Today’s Gospel: Luke 3: 1-6
How dark these nights we find forlorn
How sad the dwindling light we mourn
Among the shadow-filled hours our hope is torn
Like lambs before the slaughter, bodies shorn
Where in this may love be found?
Where in this destitute can faith abound?
People, look east to the rising sun
See your joy embodied – His arms out-flung
All is not lost – the journey has just begun
Many of us by now have heard that there have been more mass shootings than calendar days this year in 2015. By now many of us have heard of the Syrian refugee crisis where nearly 9 million people have been displaced by civil war. This week Pope Francis told world leaders at the French summit on climate change that the world itself is reaching its breaking point. This year we have seen communities erupt in righteous protests over the treatment of its minority members. Terrorism in cities like Beirut and Paris, speak to only a percentage of the continued attacks across the Middle East. Blog posts, op-eds, newscasters, et al. have had no shortage of tragedy on which to write. Not to mention: could you tell that it’s an election year?
We seem to be in a moment of history beset with an insidious violence – where politicians and friends alike seem more inclined to fight with people than their ideas. With our opinions well-made up, we swing at each others bodies – rather than one another’s minds – and rarely consider one another’s hearts. We fight as though we were in the dark, which our world most assuredly seems to be. We fight in utter despair because nuance is a hopeful thing only capable when there is light enough to perceive others with total clarity. Some assume desperation is characterized by sadness, but anger finds an equal home within the desperate soul.
The Prophet Baruch depicts Jerusalem is in the midst of misery, her children led away by the enemy. The Psalmist tells of a people weeping and sowing tears. Paul writes his letter to the Philippians while in prison. Though it’s easy to miss, John himself is alone in the desert (for who knows how long) before the word of God comes to him at all. On this second Sunday of Advent, this may be an important image to hang onto: we are all desperate people in need of God.
And God is ready to respond.
We are told today to climb upon the heights that we might see our world more like God does – to see it in the light of the Lord’s glory. We are invited to remember the great things, indeed, God has done for us. It is by love and knowledge of all perspectives we are called to see the world. Among the tragedies, let us not be blind to the light of God by which we are to see them – and the actions to which it may call us. Let us not be blind to one another’s hearts when discussing these heart-aching times. Though life may seem desperate, we are called to have hope. We are called to keep faith. We are called be love. We are called to make ready for Christ’s coming so that he may continue the good work he has begun in us.
Copyright Kyle T. Smith
Kyle Smith is a happy husband, proud Notre Dame alum, former Catholic high school theology teacher, and current graduate student at Yale University.