A Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent
by Marilyn Dunphy, MHSH
Jer. 33: 14-16
Psalm 25: 4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
1 Thes. 2:12 – 4:2
Lk. 21: 25-28, 34-36
“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” As we move towards another Advent season and light that first candle on the Advent wreath (the Hope candle), this proverbial bit of wisdom seems to especially apply.
The recent events of violence in Paris, Mali, and Baghdad, the large scale refugee crisis in Syria and other places in the Middle East, the ongoing threat to the environment, racial tensions in our country, toxic political discourse and numerous other issues cast an ominous shadow over our lives. We may find ourselves experiencing fear, anxiety, or hopelessness, as surely as did some of Jesus’ listeners as he foretold the destruction of the temple and the second coming.
But Jesus also told his listeners, “But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand”.
What can we take away from these readings for ourselves, our families, our communities and our world? First, we might remember that it was into a broken world much like ours that Jesus was born and lived. It was a world like ours in which Jesus acted in order to restore relationships – between God and humanity, as well as between and among humans.
We might consider that part of our redemption lies in our trust in Jesus as the “just shoot,” who “shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her:
“The LORD our justice.” In Jesus is our hope, our courage, our confidence.
We can, as Paul exhorts, “increase and abound in love for one another and for all, so as to strengthen (our) hearts.”
We can resist any temptation to despair, or to distract ourselves from the overwhelming troubles in our world through obsession with trivial matters or material excess.
Together with our sisters and brothers we can stand erect and raise our heads, and act with courage, compassion, solidarity, faith and hope, rooted in the One who is our redemption.
How do you find yourself at the beginning of this Advent?
What grace do you wish to pray for during this liturgical season?
Pray with the responsorial psalm (Psalm 25: 4-5, 8-9, 10, 14) this week.