A reflection for the First Sunday of Advent—First reading: Isaiah 2.1-5; Second reading: Romans 13.11-14; Gospel: Matthew 24.37-44.
This is how Jesus came to be with us, to change our fear and self-centredness into love and openness for others, our injustice and intolerance into a desire for solidarity with all people.
In our own ways, we are part of the dominant global economic system that helps to make some people’s lives miserable, often people in countries far away. Whether it is the clothes we wear, or the products we buy, or the mutual funds we invest in, it is important to realize that we are all interconnected and the way we live does impact others.
“But why feel guilty?” we ask. “Everybody’s doing it. What am I to do, quit everything and abandon my lifestyle? Be poor?” Not exactly. God is not calling us to be poor. But maybe we are being challenged to let go, in some ways, to the things we believe make our lives livable, enjoyable, safe, and secure. Perhaps there are other ways to live in a way that truly matters for the Reign of God.
In Advent, it is fitting to reflect that God comes to us as a vulnerable baby. But there is no place for a God of love in a violent, competitive, consumer-driven world. There is no place for a God of tenderness in lives too reliant on intelligence and logic. When the infant God knocks, a “No Vacancy” sign goes up. But God did find a place, a manger, a trough used to feed animals, in a smelly stable where most people would likely not wish to stay. Yet this is how Jesus came to be with us, to change our fear and self-centredness into love and openness for others, our injustice and intolerance into a desire for solidarity with all people.
Today, do not look for God only in the twinkling Christmas lights. God is also found in the stables of the world, and in the dark and cold stables of our own lives. This vulnerable Jesus made change and still does today. He gives us a different pair of glasses to view the world, to see through our illusions and to value people over profits, forgiveness over revenge, mercy over judgement, hope over hopelessness. We can be messengers of hope. It is this gift through presence that we can give to and receive from those with whom we journey in life.
The above was adapted from an article by former Scarboro lay missionary Marc Hallé, reprinted from the October 1996 edition of Scarboro Missions magazine. Marc wrote this as he was about to be missioned to China where missionary activity is forbidden and missioners serve through presence and silent witness.