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Light among darkness: A reflection for the second Sunday of Advent

Note: Sister Barbara had initially written this blog for the Catholics Mobilizing Network. Learn more here.

“The Spirit of YHWH will rest on you – a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and reverence for YHWH.” – Isaiah 11:2

Oh, that it may be so! Now, in our time and in our day, we are being invited to welcome the Spirit of Christ into our daily living. Advent opens us to look even more attentively for Christ in all persons and in all places.

Our Advent readings speak of seemingly impossible things. What are we to make of natural enemies from the animal world playing together? And a human child hanging out next to the den of a cobra? For that matter, what meaning can we discern in Isaiah’s proclamation that “there will be no harm, no destruction anywhere in my holy mountain?”

Perhaps, followers of Jesus in 2019 and beyond are being invited to adopt a practice that Alice (in Wonderland) learned from the Queen. What might it be like if we daily practiced believing in impossible things, even to the point of having at times “believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast?” (Carroll)

Rampant gun violence in our streets, homes and public places sends the message that life is not precious. The deplorable treatment of immigrant children and families at our southern border signifies a total disregard for their human dignity. The hundreds of persons incarcerated in state death rows across the country is yet another assault on human dignity crying out for healing. And now our federal government intends to resume executing persons in our name!

As the prophet assures us, “the Spirit of YHWH will rest on you – a spirit of wisdom and understanding.” We can truly believe in what may seem impossible, we can look to Jesus’ example as we chart a course toward healing and reconciliation across all that seemingly divides us as a human community. Our second reading this Sunday, from the Book of Romans, reminds us that we are empowered “to live in perfect harmony with one another according to the Spirit of Christ Jesus.”

Standing in the strength of this promise we can begin to imagine hope breaking through this darkness. By our actions and in our speech, we proclaim that no one is beyond God’s love. The light of Christ, which is each one of us, making choices that recognize, respect, and hold sacred our common human dignity, proclaims that the immigrant, the victims of gun violence, and the residents of death row are all co-equal members of the human family.

As such, we are called to stand in solidarity, most especially with members of our family that experience violence. We can – we must – find a way to do our part in extending the light of Christ that will expel the darkness. Some may see this as an ‘impossible thing,’ and yet we know as Advent people that Christ is present always and everywhere.

As we move through this season of Advent, may we find ever more opportunities to make living in perfect harmony a reality in our day. Amen! May It Be So!

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Sister Barbara Battista

Sister Barbara Battista is a native of Indianapolis who currently ministers as the Congregation's Justice Promoter. She credits her social justice activism to her mother Alice's strong example. Raised in a large and extended Italian family household, Sister Barbara comes by community organizing quite naturally. She is a passionate and energetic advocate for full equity and equality for women and girls in church and society.

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  1. Paula Modaff, SP on December 8, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Great reflection, Barbara. Thank you for inspiring me to keep on keeping on.

  2. Mary Heins on December 8, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you, Sr. Barbara! As in the story of the Immaculate Conception, we are challenged to dream the impossible, to imagine the impossible, the lion (predatory people in power) will lie down by the lamb (the weak and defenseless), swords will be beaten into plowshares, and justice and mercy will flow like a river into the most God-forsaken places on earth (prisons?).

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