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Advent Light: Why do you let us wander, O Lord?


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Elizabeth Scalia - published on 12/03/17

A reflection for December 3, 2017, Day 1 of Advent
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Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you… (Isaiah 63:19)

The very first Mass reading for the season of Advent connects us to our age, and the helplessness we feel at the headlines and social upheavals occurring every day. We acknowledge God as Father, Redeemer and Lord, and we wonder, “Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?”(Isaiah 63:17)

Our God is a mannerly God, who forces nothing, because a love that is compelled is no love at all. God wants us, and aches for us to turn to him, but we must do it freely. Thus we are created in freedom; we are permitted to seek out a relationship with God, or to shirk one.

As we can see all around us — at the secular values that are increasingly driving our culture, our politics, and even some religious discussions — there is a whole lot of shirking going on. Lots of wandering, lots of hardened hearts, and we see the fruits of it all in the coarseness of our public debates, the headlines that swing from the terrifying, to the nonsensical, to the surpassingly strange, and we think, “Come, Lord Jesus! Come, already, and end all this crazy! Put the world right, and make it all make sense again!”

Well, Jesus will return again, with the heavens opened and the mountains quaking before him. In the Mass we say we await that day with “joyful hope,” but for most of us – at least those of us who are cognizant of all the ways we have fallen short – we quake like the mountains at the thought, expecting justice, but hoping for one dollop more of mercy.

But for now, we have this Coming of Jesus placed before us at the start of a new liturgical year. As Advent begins we are given a chance to make straight our paths, to return from the wilderness into which we have wandered within the distractions of our day-to-day, and rediscover God, anew, and in the most approachable of all possible forms.

Come Lord Jesus! In your birth we await the heaven-crackling good news that God comes to us, so that we might stop our wanderings and make our way back to him. Back to the source of light. Back to the promise of mercy. Back to the love that created us and is always waiting for our return. Come, Emmanuel, and bring us back!


Aleteia will bring you reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. Follow the series here.

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