Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Advent 2013: Second Week

December 13, 2013


Second Week in Advent

In his recent apostolic letter, Pope Francis invites us to an “ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times.” “We have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day. . . . Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded .” [51-53]

What are these “signs of the time?” They are signs, positive and negative, that distinguish our time, but they are also signs of God’s presence among his people. And the sign above all signs is what we celebrate in Advent, the birth of Jesus Christ into our history, whose coming heralds “the great reversal of all things,” “a new ordering of all things on this earth.”

Pope Francis names as these “signs,” among others, a global “economy of exclusion and inequality . . . which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits,” and a “world torn apart by wars and violence.” [53, 98]

The readings from the second Sunday of Advent , however, speak of God’s “great reversal,” a time when “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,” and “there shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain.”

Today, as in Jesus’ time, the gap separating rich from poor is, in Pope Francis’ words, “growing exponentially,” “human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded”. . . . As in this story, shared by Luis Enrique Jacquez, a Columban volunteer in El Paso, Texas:

“I have worked with unaccompanied minors for five years. So many young people come with their story of a journey filled with danger. Some had been assaulted, robbed, severely injured, or saw horrific things, the mention of which brings terror to their young faces. The unfortunate reality is that many will eventually be deported back to their country.”

In this week’s readings, the prophet Isaiah shares with us his “vision” and hope for the future: “On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” [Is 11:1-10] On that day, “justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.” [Ps 72]

God “shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.”

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us: “For those who are great and powerful in this world, there are two places where their courage fails them, which terrify them to the very depths of their souls, and which they dearly avoid. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ.”

Therefore, Paul invites us, “Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you.” “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance,” the Gospel exhorts us.