Reading through the first reading (Hebrews 10: 5-10) and Gospel (Lk 1:39-45) for the 4th Sunday of Advent brings to mind the contrast of the peaceful past of this area with today’s violence and upheaval.
Micah’s prophesying, “His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace,” stands in contradiction to what our evening news announces to us day after day. The bombing – shells flying, children screaming, people running for shelter – is anything but peaceful.
In the 90’s I spent three months in the Holy Land. Even then, soldiers carried guns and guarded roads and villages. Yet wherever we went in Bethlehem we could visit the places of our Lord’s birth and public life.
Today, we are dismayed at the contrast – the lack of peace, the bombing and cruelty, the starvation, the fear in the eyes of men, women and children.
“O Little Town of Bethlehem” seems blasphemous in the light of reality.
What are we to pray, to think, to ponder these last days of Advent ?
Is the coming of Jesus to bring “Peace on earth,” or not?
It seems to me we are to remind ourselves that the Incarnation, the God made man, is also the God of his Passion, Cross and Resurrection. And we are here on earth to continue to bring peace to the earth. This last week of Advent, we can ask, “Where in my small corner of the world can I bring peace?”
1) Is there violence in my heart? With whom should I make peace? My spouse, child, friend, relative, neighbor?
2) What agency or Care-Giver can I relieve stress for by giving time or monetary help?
3) What ill or dying person needs my presence just to smile, talk, or be with?
4) Merton says, “Peace begins within the heart.” What corners of my heart need to be softened?
And finally, in this last week of Advent, I say over and over, ” Thank you for the graces of Advent, as I continue to celebrate the festivities of Jesus’ birth, may my heart be gladdened by this unimaginable gift of a God come to earth!”