A reflection on this week’s readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11 , 2 Peter 3:8-14, Mark 1:1-8
There are few things in life that I dislike more than waiting. Whether it is for a package I ordered to arrive, or standing in an unmoving line, wondering what tomorrow, or five years from now will bring, or simply waiting for our coffeemaker to provide me with a warm cup of steaming, caffeinated goodness, waiting fills my mind with dread and apprehension at every turn.
Perhaps that is why this Sunday’s readings are such a comfort for me. Advent is a season designed around the idea of waiting. In the season of Advent, we place ourselves in the same position as the Israelite community to whom Isaiah prophesied.
Suffering the immense hurt and brokenness wrought by the Exile, they were left waiting to wonder just when this God in whom they had trusted would come through for them, delivering them from their fears and satisfying their thirst for justice.
The horror must have been palpable for the Israelites- just what had they done to deserve this treatment? Was God punishing them for their mistakes? Was God even there at all? In the experience of waiting, we engage in a temporary suspension of our desire to be in control of things- a desire that will never truly leave us.
The end of a year is also a time to take stock of the way we have lived our lives in the almost-completed year. No doubt, there have been struggles and challenges, but also triumphs, joys, and simply moments of peaceful contentment.
As I reflect on the almost-completed year of 2020, the image that has come to my mind repeatedly is that of a wilderness, one in which so many of us have felt disconnected from the things and people we love.
How fitting an image for this Sunday’s readings!
For we, like the Israelites, are a people much in need of consolation. As Christians, we are called to be witnesses to hope, doing what we can to spread the joy of the Gospel for a world much in need of it, daring to believe that a better world is, indeed, possible.
At heart, the Gospel message is one of hope and reconciliation, with knowledge that our mistakes and failings do not need to define us. A better future always lies ahead, if only we trust in God to get us there.
Like John the Baptist, we proclaim the great truth that God’s Reign is a light breaking through in the darkness, shattering the gloom of doubt and uncertainty that plagues the human spirit.
We can be certain of few things in this life, but we can be sure, above all, that God, as a loving shepherd, feeds his flock, and leads us with care at every step of the journey. And what a comfort it is to know that our God is waiting to carry us whenever the road gets rough.
Brother Johnathon Emanuelson, FSC, is a Brother of the Christian Schools in temporary vows, who currently lives and ministers in Racine, WI.