Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday in the 1st Week of Advent
Advent Advocate

Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Luke 10:21-24

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever…

As was the case yesterday, the response to our psalm for today also provides a useful focus to our reflection. For in a sense, Advent is all about time, about the coming of the Lord’s time. And, as we will recall from previous years, Advent is a curious time, when we find ourselves in between the two comings of the Lord: his first coming at his birth and his second coming at the end of time.

We eagerly watch for this coming because, as promised, it will be a time of justice and peace, a time when God will decide aright for the land’s afflicted and when there shall be no harm or ruin on all of God’s holy mountain. These promises sound particularly poignant this week when, here in this land in which I find myself, a group of farmers will be completing their foot-march of 1600 kilometres, from their province to the country’s capital in order to garner support for their bid to have their ancestral lands restored to them. Indeed, our celebration of Advent should remind us that we are all still waiting for a time when people will no longer have to go to such lengths to see justice done. And as we wait, do we not also find ourselves called to work in the cause of justice and peace?

But the in-between nature of Advent also means that waiting and working cannot be our only preoccupations. For the time of the Lord is also already upon us. Isn’t this the reason why, in the gospel, Jesus can joyfully offer a heartfelt prayer of praise and thanks to the Father for what the Father has already done? Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike… If it is true that the time of the Lord, the time of justice and peace, has already arrived, then Advent must also be for us a time of revelation, recognition and rejoicing.

Even so, it’s necessary to acknowledge the challenge that we face. It is not easy to wait for something we need urgently, just as it is not easy to see and to recognize something that seems to remain hidden. For the first requires courage, and the second, wisdom. Isn’t this why our readings today suggest to us the need for a companion on our Advent journey? We don’t often hear about this companion except when Pentecost comes around. And yet, both our readings today speak about the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit in whom Jesus is anointed and under whose influence he rejoices. Isn’t it also only in the Spirit that we can receive the courage and wisdom we need to spend this season fruitfully?

If Jesus is the reason for the season, and the Father’s house its destination, then the Spirit must surely be our much-needed advocate, our companion on the way.

How might we better open ourselves to the Spirit’s influence today?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris! Welcome back from your spiritual hiatus. I am sure many of your readers must have missed your spiritual insights. I know I did.

    May I share with you what I shared with the people at Mass yesterday?

    God love you,


    1st Week of Advent (Tue)

    God has a great love of giving the underdog a chance. There are a lot of us who love to see this kind of thing happening in the stories that we read and the movies that we watch. You know – the kind where the poor girl who had a tough childhood and has her dream come true in the end, or the ugly guy gets the pretty girl, or the down and out who wins the state lottery. God loves that kind of turnout as well. He must be the champion of the champions of the underdog.

    There is a certain tension that is prevalent in both of today’s readings. The divide between the learned and clever, juxtaposed against the ‘mere children’. Jesus, who reveals who God is for us all (a loving Father), is the one who actually straddles and stands between the two seeming extremes. And not just here in today’s gospel, where the learned are opposed against the ‘mere children’. Elsewhere in the gospel too, we see Jesus holding that tension between opposites. He is the bridge between the healthy and those who are infirm; between the rich and the poverty stricken; between the chosen and the gentiles; between the saved and the sinner. Where before there was no own who would stand there and bridge that gap, now stands Jesus, who really is the “messiah” who would not only do the unthinkable, but the downright necessary. Fr Richard Rohr’s writings helped me to see that even at his death, he holds the ‘tension’ at Calvary, where he hangs right there, between the good thief and the bad thief. Pure genius.

    How else then, can the opposites live side by side in the new ‘home’ where even opposites will no longer see conflict and division but in Jesus, a new kind of harmony. Isaiah images this in a very graphic way. Opposites no longer fighting and devouring one another, but co-living in a new harmony. Wolf and lamb; panther and kid; calf and lion; cow and bear; lion and ox; infant and cobra. We all have people in our lives where we have not been able to hold the tension well. At most, we tolerate. That’s not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is more than tolerance. It is a new level of living. And only when we usher in the Messiah into our lives can this level of living be realised.

    Jesus is the only one who makes this possible. But it’s not for all to see, for even some prophets and Kings could not, apparently. In my poverty of spirit, I am the pauper justaposed against the prophets and Kings that Jesus metions. And here, Jesus stands between us, bridging once more that great divide. He allows me to see and hear something that others cannot. I am the underdog given that chance. Jesus is giving this unworthy underdog that chance. Jesus told his disciples this in private, and he tells us too. If the old prophets and Kings could not hear and see, we, baptised as Priests, Prophets and Kings have heard and have seen. The adventure in Advent is to take this from private to public. And do it with joy. There’s an ‘advent’ in advent-ure. Let the adventure begin.