Today is the Third Sunday of Advent … this year it is just twelve days until Christmas Day. Surely this is an excellent day on which to reflect on how our preparations for Christmas are going.
Of course, I am not talking about turkey ordering, pudding making or present buying … I am talking about our spiritual preparations for Christmas.
So … how are those spiritual preparations going?
Dare I ask if they have started yet?
Even in these strange times, we all lead busy lives. Our busyness may be very different from years past, but we have learnt new ways of keeping ourselves busy …
so … how can we be expected to make time for God as well?
Last week’s gospel reading introduced us to John the Baptist. Today we meet John the Baptist again, but this time from a different perspective.
Today we are being asked to choose between the worldly way and God’s way …
one demonstrated by John …
the other demonstrated by the priests and Levites.
John was a witness sent from God, while the priests and Levites were interrogators sent by the religious authorities. John knows exactly who he is … and who he is not.
- John speaks the truth … but he does not claim to be the truth;
- John is illumined by the truth … but he does not claim to be the light;
- John is the voice of one crying out in the wilderness …
but he is not the Word of God.
Everything about John points to the light and the life of the one who is coming … Jesus Christ.
The witness of John offers hope, while his interrogators just give us more and more questions.
Of course, John’s is not the only voice of hope that we hear at this time of the year …
- Mary proclaimed the greatness of the Lord;
- Isaiah was anointed to bring God’s good news to the world.
John, Mary and Isaiah each testify to a life and a presence beyond their own … their voices are the voices of hope!
Of course, hope does not make life easy … but, it does make life possible.
Hope reminds us that the light and life of Christ is with us, no matter how dark and difficult our lives may have become.
On the other hand, those interrogators do their very best to obscure the witness of hope … they clamour and compete for our attention.
The interrogators generally speak the loudest, but … they have never been able to silence the still voice of God … the still small voice of hope.
So, the question is … which voice do we listen to?
Which voice do we follow?
Which voice do we trust?
Because the voice to which we listen, and the voice in which we put our trust, will become the voice with which we, ourselves, speak!
Hope is not easy … we have to practise hope.
Hope means that we rejoice always;
hope means that we pray without ceasing;
hope means that we give thanks in all circumstances.
It is these practices that will enable us to hear, and to become, the voice of hope ourselves.
Interrogators always want answers, justifications and reasons … they want to ‘understand’ so that they can control.
Witnesses look beyond the circumstances in which they find themselves, they look towards the God who inhabits those circumstances.
That is hope!!
Hope opens our eyes to the one who is coming;
hope prepares our hearts to welcome the one who is already among us;
hope makes straight the way of the Lord;
hope is not a feeling but an orientation … an attitude to life;
hope is a way of seeing;
hope allows us to recognize and to know Christ.
Hope does not change the circumstances of our lives …
rather, it changes us …
and that is what changes everything!
So … how are those preparations going?
Are you looking to the coming of Jesus with hope,
or are you allowing yourself to be bogged down with those mundane questions and concerns that stifle hope and joy …
the hope and joy we find in the reality of Christ’s Incarnation?
Are you a witness or an interrogator?