Advent is the quieter, more reflective liturgical season, right? Advent is a season of anticipation and hope. However, Advent 2016 unfolds in the aftermath of contentious, alarming U.S. elections just a few weeks ago. Many see election results as a vindication of their unheeded outcry about being excluded from the economic system, some see the election as confirmation of their bigotry, and many see the results as a train wreck, especially for vulnerable communities including immigrants, refugees, Muslims, LGBTQ persons, and those with needed health care under the Affordable Care Act.
Maybe this Advent puts us more closely in touch with the times of today’s scripture writers, Isaiah, Paul and Matthew. Theirs were not Hallmark times, not soothing and gentle, but tumultuous, struggling, uncertain times. Times like ours.
In Isaiah’s vision, the people say, “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,” to be instructed in God’s ways. One of God’s instructions is to “beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks…”. Usually we apply this teaching to nations, but it can also be a lesson for us as individuals. In this post-election Advent, what are my swords and spears? At whom are they directed? In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus cautions us to “Stay awake!” and to be prepared. We have a high mountain to climb. Recently, I read advice by a teacher who said, “You will not climb the mountain for which you are not passionately prepared.” A first step can be to be awake to my own swords and spears, and beg God to transform them into attitudes and actions of peace and love. So equipped, we begin the laborious mountain climb toward peace with justice, holding fast to our core beliefs, taking each other’s hands, crying out, clinging to hope.
Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy