Thursday, December 3, 2009

Peace that Pierces the Darkness

Reflections on the Readings

Second Sunday of Advent - December 6, 2009 Year C

By Dennis Hankins

Readings For This Sunday

..."And all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3:6 RSV)

Today we light the candle of Peace.  How humanity needs it.  How improbable it seems.  Yet there it is, piercing the darkness within and without, announcing that, "All flesh shall see the salvation of God."  

It is John the Baptist's mission to prepare a people worthy to receive the One he proclaimed.  He did so by inviting his listeners to receive the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of their sins.  He lived out his mission filled with humility toward the coming Prince of Peace explaining, "I am not worthy to unloose the straps from his sandals." (Mark 1:7)

We today, as John's followers did, must prepare ourselves if we are to receive him when he comes.  In the Eastern Church Advent is known as the Little Lent.  A time of Penance is encouraged during Advent in the parishes of the Roman Rite as well.  It is because the King is coming.  And if there is to be room in our hearts for him when he comes, we must prepare the way of the Lord; that we may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. 

Upon self examination, all of us would agree, there exists in each of us crooked paths that need to be made straight.  Valley's needing to be filled up.  Mountains of self exaltation, deceptive pride, and manipulative high handedness that needs to be brought low.  And the rough spots, for we are all diamonds in the rough, must be made smooth.  You see, the King is coming, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.  Every ounce of our being cries out to be filled with the fulness of God's salvation.

What about the inequity that is all around us?  Matters of justice for the poor, the vulnerable, the forgotten.  The distance between the haves and the have nots that screams for attention. The high mountains of bloated inconsideration for the multitudes living below, down in the valleys of inadequate housing, malnutrition, or not enough kerosene to keep warm during the cold winters.  Every ounce of our being cries out with the prophet, make his paths straight, stop complicating things, fill up the valleys and bring down the mountains, the King is coming and all flesh deserves to see the salvation of God!

It is a beautiful thing when the crooked is made straight and the rough ways made smooth.  Are we not called to bring peace and justice?  The whole world yearns for the morning dew of peace and safety.  Yet poverty and hunger, injustice and chaos prevails in too much of the world.  But let us not give in to the status quo.  With all that is within us let us proclaim the King who leads his Church in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and justice for company; for God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named the peace of justice, the glory of God's worship. (See Baruch Chapter 5)

How peace should radiate from deep within our heart, be visible upon our face.  The nature and dignity of this peace is that it befriends the fatherless and the widow, embraces the orphan, protects and defends the amputee, regards the dignity and image of God in the riddled body of the AIDS patient. Witness the smile that spreads across the face of a weary soul, all because of the peace we shared out of the treasure of our heart.  All because we chose to let nothing hinder us being the face of Jesus to that one who has never seen him. 

This Sunday in Advent we learn that God's peace and justice is not stagnant, unmoved or detached.  It is rather a drama filled with the inspiration of God's command that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground.  This is the way the Kingdom advances and advances securely in the glory of God.  

In ancient times much ado was made to welcome the king.  Every effort was expended to make the processional route amiable to the occasion.  How much more must we renew our commitment to removing every barrier to the King of Peace so that all may see him and receive him who is the very salvation of God. 

Let us probe the bottomless depths of the meaning of Advent.  Rather than Advent being an interlude to enable a jump start to Christmas, it is an opportunity to rid ourselves of every obstacle to the peace of God.  Not hoarding this rich treasure for ourselves, but rather letting it have every conceivable entrance into our world.  For this peace which passes understanding wills to capture the hearts and minds of each of us and our neighbor for Christ Jesus, until the glory of the Lord and his salvation shall cover the earth and all flesh see it together! (Philippians 4:7; Isaiah 40:5

Let us pray: Dear Father, pour out your Spirit upon all flesh, that we all may become evangelists of the Prince of Peace, until the whole world is crowned with the great salvation of God.  Through Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen. 

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