The author of Luke’s gospel must have been a born journalist. He/she begins the narrative by anticipating and answering all the important questions: When? Where? What? Who? How? Why? It’s all there as we are introduced to this singular moment in history, this pivotal event in the story of the human race and their God, this dramatic announcement of an exciting, transforming opportunity for all who are listening. This is the first and official proclamation of the gospel by John the Baptizer.
Imagine yourself there in the crowd, waiting in curious attention, scintillating anticipation and tingling expectancy to hear what this strange man has to say. How do you feel as you listen to this new message? Excited? Nervous? Skeptical? Hopeful?
Look around you to see who’s with you. What is their reaction?
Take a moment to define with the same historical exactitude this time in our own lives. Who is it that rules the world we live in? the state? The city? The community? The Church? What is the context of our own story as we listen with itching ears? Who are we and where are we as we enter into this Advent invitation?
The reality of the global pandemic lingers with us. We know the suffering, challenges and upheaval we have all experienced over the last months. How have we changed? How are we there for one another?
Touch into the longing in your mind and heart for an answer to our search for peace and justice, for kindness and compassion. Who is speaking to us and how? Who are the prophets of our world calling out to us from the wilderness of our existence where we wait to hear that word of hope? Will God’s Kingdom ever come? Will God’s will ever be done on earth as it is in heaven?
It’s all about repentance, isn’t it? METANOIA! The Greek word METANOIA includes much more than just examining our conscience and going to confession. METANOIA means a change of mind and heart, a complete turning around at the deepest level, the kind of inner transformation that bears visible fruit. This time it’s for real. This time it’s serious. Our Savior is coming and we have to be prepared.
I think of so many of our religious congregations, my own included, that are going through seismic changes at this time. Buildings are being taken down or repurposed or sold. The land that we have come to love is being developed by someone else. Our members are getting old and dying. There are few if any new members.
What does this mean for our own conversion process, personally and collectively? To what new place are we being called? What’s on the horizon for our future? What will be our new identity, our new mission as we evolve?
What are the mountains in our personal and communal lives that have to be brought down and levelled? What are the valleys that have to be raised? What are the crooked ways that have to be straightened? It’s construction time, folks, and we have to get going. Something’s happening. Someone’s coming into our lives and we’ll never be the same.
Pope Francis calls us in Laudato Sí to what he calls “ecological conversion.” How is our spiritual conversion linked to our relationship with our dear Mother Earth?
In our first reading from Baruch, the prophet, we hear more excitement, more anticipation as he reminds us that the time has, indeed, come: “Up, Jerusalem! Stand upon the heights; look to the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God.”
I don’t know about you, but Advent always stirs me up spiritually. There’s something about the gladness of the season, the joy in the air, and the elation in the atmosphere that makes me happy and hopeful. I want to believe and I do believe that Jesus is the reason for the season.
How about you?
Mary Ellen Green, OP
Mary Ellen Green, OP
After graduating from Edgewood College in Madison, WI with a French major, Mary Ellen entered the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa. She foolishly thought she would be teaching French to adolescents for the rest of her life. Was she mistaken!
Mary Ellen has spent the last 50 years serving the People of God in many and varied ways. Her ministries have included preaching retreats in Ireland, France, Australia, and New Zealand as well as parish missions, adult faith formation, spiritual direction, financial development, congregation leadership, and five years as Regional Director of Jesuit Volunteer Corps Southwest. All has been grace!
At this time May Ellen is on the staff of Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center in Arbor Vitae, WI where eagles fly and deer roam and bears are occasionally seen.
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