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Advent Light: God is not in the either/or that is tearing the world apart


A reflection and prayer for December 7, 2017, Day 5 of Advent

Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.
A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace;
in peace, for its trust in you. (Isaiah 26:2-3)

Where is this nation on earth, today — just, faithful, trusting, firm in purpose and thus living in peace?

At this moment, the headlines might make us feel less like the hopeful and consoling Isaiah and more like the troubled Jeremiah:

They have treated lightly
the injury to my people:
“Peace, peace!” they say,
though there is no peace. (Jer 6:14)

Yes, the nations dress our wounds lightly. Politicians say little that is not platitudinous, whether the issue is high or low. Many nations are increasingly secularized; they — as a UK politico said a while back — “don’t do God.” Self-reliant, self-exalting, they rely upon their credentials and connections, their “wisdom” too often born of whatever is trendy and expedient. Their “firm purpose” is as malleable as warm taffy. Humility, if it exists at all, comes about grudgingly. And there is no peace.

Of course, there are nations that do “do God,” but to an extreme that uses God as a cudgel — as an excuse to hammer its people. Humility, if it exists, is a concept used to oppress. They are not in peace.

Even in our first nation, the nation of the family, we see this. Some families have no interest in teaching their children, or learning themselves, about God. They think God makes things harder, requires too much, puts a crimp on a superior lifestyle and even “makes people mean.”

Other families are so God-centric that they forget to teach their children that they will have to (as John Paul II said) “deal with the world as it is,” a place with varied people, of varied wounds and frailties, all, all, deeply in need of the subtle, long-term healing that comes from practicing humility with each other.

God is not in the either/or that is currently tearing the world apart; he is in the both/and that brings us together. It is no accident that Christ Jesus is at the center of the Cross.

The God who is 100 percent love cannot be the bringer of hate or the maker of wounds. We do that, and often we blame God for making us do it, or for allowing others to do it to us.

God is the Creator who co-operates with us, who trusts us enough to permit our co-operation with him, even as he Incarnated, and lay helpless before us. He trusts us to relieve the poor and lift up the downtrodden and to do it justly, purposefully, and to do it with humility, too.

In blessing the lives of others, we will be doubly blessed; for our co-operation, we will come more deeply to know God and live in the expansive freedom he promises. The choice, as ever with God, is ours to make.

Jesus spells it out:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,”
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (Matt 7:21)

Come Lord Jesus! Come, and teach me anew by the example of your extreme humility, that I am better served by practicing humility, in co-operation with your will, than by seeking the exaltation of a volatile and vacillating world. Help me to keep my faith, with a firm purpose, and to emblazon within my soul the words of your servant, Teresa of Calcutta, who said, “If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”

Come, Lord Jesus, that I may be the adorer at your manger; the steadfast friend at your cross; the faithful witness to your resurrection. Amen.


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

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