From a Faith Perspective– Submitted by Sr. Eileen White, GNSH

Written on: December 19, 2022

December in our hemisphere brings longer nights, many inside and outside colorful light decorations, Chanukah candles in Jewish homes, Kwanzaa candles in African American homes, Advent wreaths and Christmas trees in Christian homes, in person and internet shopping, and sometimes snow days. For many Catholic Christian families, Advent is a special four week season of preparation for Christmas. On the Sundays of Advent, we listen to scripture readings from the prophet Isaiah, some of which have been made famous in Handel’s “Messiah.”

Rev. Ron Rolheiser, a well-known Catholic author and speaker, writes,

Advent is about longing, about getting in touch with it, about heightening it, about letting it raise our psychic temperatures, about sizzling as damp, green logs inside the fires of intimacy, about intuiting the kingdom of God by seeing, through desire, what the world might look like if a Messiah were to come and, with us, establish justice, peace, and unity on this earth.”  

On the second Sunday of Advent this year Catholics heard the prophet Isaiah describe what the world could look like if the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One, came and worked with us, if everyone were really ready to work with the One whom Christians call God’s only Son. Here’s what Isaiah wrote:

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox
.  (Isaiah 11)

And how we long for this! How we desire this for those made poor! How we long to see the wicked slain! How we hope and pray for peace in our city, for an end to violence in our nation, in our world! How we long for an end to war and suffering and millions made refugees, abandoning their homelands because there is no safety, no justice, no freedom, no food, no hope.

Advent is about longing.

How these words of Isaiah set fire in our hearts!  How long, O Lord? And we light another candle on our Advent wreath – the candle of peace, the candle of hope – and we sing the ancient chant, “Veni, veni Emmanuel.” Come!  God-with-us! Hurry us along. Come!

Our longing and our desire become a prayer. And God occasionally shows us where our prayer can lead us. We who are sometimes wolves reach out to the vulnerable one, that person we prefer to leave out, that person we haven’t forgiven, that person whose longing is for friendship or reconciliation or recognition. We who are sometimes the leopard or the lion choose not to say the mean word, choose not to spread the rumor, choose not to believe the lie. We become followers of the Holy One who teaches us not to judge by appearances, not to decide by hearsay,

We continue longing for that world that Isaiah envisions. And we step up to the picture, to paint whatever pieces of that peaceable kingdom are ours to paint.

 

This column appeared in the Bucks County Courier Times on December 11.

 


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