Moving from darkness to light
Every morning when praying the Canticle of Zechariah (Benedictus), I stop and reflect on this stanza in particular: “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
These words offer so much consolation, especially during this pandemic. How my heart, our hearts long for light in the coming days as we hope and pray for an effective vaccine to bring an end to the fear and darkness brought on by COVID-19!
As one liturgical year ends and we embark on another on the First Sunday of Advent, the Scriptures during early Advent continue dwelling on the end time and Christ’s return in glory. It’s only later in the season that our attention is turned toward Christmas and the Incarnation, Jesus coming among us as one with us. The Scripture readings also transition from an emphasis on darkness to light, aligning as it were with increasing daylight heralded by the winter solstice.
There is something profoundly contemplative about these few weeks in December which present us an opportunity to enter into the quiet, resting in God’s presence and love. I invite each of us to engage the Advent season and not rush past it, head-long into Christmas.
Richard Rohr, OFM, wrote in one of his recent daily reflections: “The Kingdom is about union and communion, which means that it is also about mercy, forgiveness, nonviolence, letting go, solidarity, service, and lives of love, patience, and simplicity. Who can doubt that this is the sum and substance of Jesus’ teaching?”
Our task as Christians is to advance God’s Kingdom in our world each and every day. Consider how you could more fully embrace the teachings of Jesus in your life. Perhaps a good new year resolution on the First Sunday of Advent could be a re-commitment to Kingdom work as Fr. Richard describes it.
As disciples of Jesus, may we be more passionate and committed than ever to building God’s Kingdom on planet Earth through acts of mercy, forgiveness, nonviolence, letting go, solidarity, service, love, patience, and simplicity. Since shopping for Christmas presents could be particularly challenging this year, think about gifting others with these blessings instead, at Christmas and throughout the year. These presents don’t need to be gift-wrapped; they only require the wrapping of our mind and heart!
We trust and do believe “the tender compassion of our God … shall break upon us.” In the meantime, the Advent hymn, “Patience, People,” may offer encouragement during this pandemic.
In any case, may your Advent days be blessed with peace!