Last week we were invited to be Good News to the world, to facilitate healing and liberation and new life! This week our first reading from Samuel tells the story of King David and his desire to build a dwelling place for God. David’s intentions seem to be good but God quickly informs David that, he, God is in charge. God has been providing for David his whole life long, he took him from the pastures, from being a sheep herder, he has protected him from his enemies, and is making his name great. God says I will be the one doing the building. God will provide for David and for his offspring forever.
In the Gospel, Luke tells the story of Mary’s encounter with the angel Gabriel, how God has chosen her to be the Mother of Jesus. Luke tells us of Mary’s doubts and confusion on the one hand and her generous response - I will do what God wants of me, on the other.
Paul invites the Romans to live their lives in praise of God, the God who has been revealed to them, the God who strengthens them, and the God who has been with them their whole life long.
As we approach the great celebration of the birth of Jesus and look closely at our world we notice several things. The most obvious is the pandemic, the presence of the Covid-19 virus. Most of us now know someone who has had the virus or someone who has recovered from the virus, someone who is experiencing the after effects of the virus or we know someone who has died as a result of the virus. Someone I know and worked with has recently died from Covid-19. The virus has created a worldwide crisis.
Worldwide we are polluting the land, our air and our water. As a result, we are experiencing the impact of our behavior; we lack clean water, our air is polluted and our lands are compromised and contaminated. Our temperatures are warming on the earth, in large part due to our activity, and our reluctance to make choices that will heal the earth. This is not a theory it is a scientific fact.
Worldwide we are experiencing the migration of millions of people – because of wars, violence and oppression, weather events and earthquakes/volcanoes or a desire for a better life. Countries are struggling – should we welcome these refugees or not? What would God want us to do?
Worldwide we are experiencing unprecedented racism. We see also the harsh reality of hatred and exclusion. It is evident here in our area.
Worldwide we are experiencing the increasing gap between those who have money and resources and those who do not. The number of people who work hard and cannot provide for their families is growing. A small number of people possess and control most of the world’s money and resources.
Worldwide we are experiencing a crisis of leadership – a growing number of leaders are more interested in growing their bank account and maintaining their power and the power and wealth of their friends, than in lifting up the people they serve; the poor and the marginalized. Our Churches are experiencing the same thing.
While we may not experience all of this personally or directly here in Northern Saskatchewan – these things and much more are happening in our world. A world in which we have a voice; a voice given to us by God!
As we near the end of Advent and as the great feast of Christmas approaches, the sacred scriptures speak of a God who is vitally interested in the suffering of his people. God is so interested in the cries of his people that he sends his Son, Jesus Christ into the world. God enlists the help of Prophets and Kings. God calls upon ordinary people like Zechariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, and the Apostles, to help him establish the Kingdom of God and to spread the Good News, to bring healing and new life.
As Catholics we are not bystanders, we are not on the sidelines of life watching things from a distance! We are in the game! The Spirit of God invites us to be involved in all that happens.
This year most of us will spend Christmas alone, with the people of our household. Most of us will celebrate our Christmas liturgies, virtually, in front of a Television or Computer Screen or a smart phone. Many of us will be anxious about our work and how long our job will last. Many of us will be hungry and thirsty. Many of us will be sad and discouraged.
We are all in need of hope!
On this last Sunday of Advent, let us cry out to God in our need.
On this last Sunday of Advent, let us pay attention to the voices of those who cry out.
On this last Sunday of Advent, may God strengthen us!
Like Mary, may we give our best self to the work of God! Let us, you and me, be a sign of HOPE for all peoples!
Fr. Doug Jeffrey, OMI