Second Sunday of Advent

Readings

BAR 5: 1-9

PHIL 1: 4-6, 8-11

LK 3: 1-6

Reflection

“Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

I can’t read these words of the prophet Isaiah, quoted here in Luke, without hearing the thunderous voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaiming these verses in his famed “I Have a Dream” speech some fifty-five years ago. Dr. King’s words are more important than ever amidst the current chaos of our world. It seems like each day brings a new outrage, a new horror – environmental degradation, environmental disasters, mass shootings, seemingly endless wars, millions of migrants and refugees throughout the world and in our own backyard, racial hatred and violence, sexual hatred and violence, church scandals, the deepening polarization within our church and society – the list could go on. The constant barrage of negative news can leave us feeling quite unsettled, uneasy, and even depressed. How do we regain our sense of equanimity, our sense of hope in the midst of so much sorrow?

Advent provides the answer – in the midst of our pain and distress our God, Emmanuel, is with us. Because of God’s great love for us, God enters into our world to be with us. God takes on human flesh and pitches a tent amongst us. “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

This good news allowed Dr. King to confront the evil of his own time, and enables us to do the same. Indeed, this good news compels us to transform our world. As Dr. King put it, “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discord of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brother (sister) hood.” Advent allows us to place our hope in a God who comes, but who also calls on us to become beacons of hope in a difficult world. We must “hew out” a “stone of hope;” we must “transform the jangling discord.” In sum, we must transform the world by loving it. To do so, we cling to our God who is with us, and we pray with St. Paul “that our love may increase ever more and more” each day.     

Jeff Burns, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Catholic Thought and Culture