“Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Luke 21:28.
We are in Advent, this Sunday, and perhaps every day of our lives, as we wait.
Waiting or anticipation takes so many forms.
You are waiting at Monterey Airport for the aircraft on a rainy or foggy early morning — with the hope that your scheduled flight to SFO, LAX, PHX or DEN will arrive on time and take you to your destination on the globe.
You are in the “waiting room” of a hospital for the pending news from a surgeon about the emergency operation performed on a parent or close friend.
You are anticipating the noon mail and the business-sized envelope – that confirms your selection to the college or university of your choice. Please note: the telltale sign is a thick envelope, rather than a thin one.
Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting, so much like the tuning of an orchestra, where just before the conductor walks on stage – that first moment of sound, coming in every direction.
Interestingly, it’s the oboe – the oddest of instruments that hits the A-note and followed by a flood of string instruments that gets the orchestra ready to go – at the direction of its conductor.
So it’s Advent, a waiting time, and one that occupies our lives in very particular ways — the comforting sounds of a Christmas Carol, or the notice on the airport departure screen, or a kind hospital nurse with an assuring message, or any sign of the mail truck.
For the prophet Jeremiah, his oracle or prophecy was intensely political since he spoke during a most anxious time for a divided nation: the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. They too looked for a united Israel in which an ideal king might fulfill their dreams.
Where they could not do this on their own, Jeremiah tells them God would fulfill this promise – in good time, so wait for this coming.
In his poem entitled “Advent Credo,” Allan Boesak, the South African Dutch Reform minister and social activist, provides an Advent window into the more profound waiting that must occupy this time in our lives.
It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss –
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction –
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever –
This is true: Unto us, a child is born, unto us, a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:16).
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world –
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you even until the end of the world. (Matthew 28:18-20).
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are especially gifted who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers –
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young women and men shall see visions and your elders shall have dreams (Acts 2:17).
It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity, of peace are not meant for this earth and this history –
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and truth. (John 4:23).
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.
Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ – the life of the world!
Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.