God is When Things Are at Their Worst

preparingYou may be starting to panic about now.

The big day looms ever closer. There is cleaning and cooking and buying and wrapping, decorating, and sending, and visiting. There are calls to be made and last-minute runs to stores to contend with. There are parking lots filled to bursting and long lines at check-out lanes. Children are rambunctious and tempers are getting shorter.

We are at that point in preparation where things can’t get much worse. There is still so much to do, and time is running out.

Thankfully, we are reminded at mass that the real preparation is going on confidently, inexorably, and patiently. All will be as it should be.

Our readings today remind us that although this is a time when life seems too hectic and overwhelming, there is good news, and that news sustains us in times of difficulty.

Baruch writes from exile after Babylon has carted off most of the Jerusalem population to slavery. There are only the left-overs of society remaining in the city. Those that nobody wants or can use. Does he speak of sorrow and woe? No.  Rather he sends greeting to Jerusalem:

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights;
look to the east and see your children
gathered from the east and the west
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Led away on foot by their enemies they left you:
but God will bring them back to you
borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.
The forests and every fragrant kind of tree
have overshadowed Israel at God’s command;
for God is leading Israel in joy
by the light of his glory,
with his mercy and justice for company.

Rejoice? Be joyful? Dress up in your finest?

Baruch says yes, for God will return Jerusalem to her greatness and her glory. A small voice, that of Baruch, but one that calls us to remember, and trust in God.

Similarly, Paul brings joyous tidings to the Philippians, a small band of Jesus followers who are under assault themselves. And Paul? Paul writes these beautiful uplifting words while imprisoned himself. He thinks of them in joy and with confidence.

He exhorts them to keep the faith:

And this is

my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value,
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness
that comes through Jesus Christ
for the glory and praise of God.
Paul urges them to not waiver from their path.

Of course, we are all familiar with the passage from Luke wherein John the Baptist goes throughout the land proclaiming good news of God and calling all to repentance and to be ready for the Lord. He does this after a litany of the names of those that later on will prove to be the great enemies of Jesus who will actively do everything possible to thwart his message.

as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

In all these examples, times were ominous. Threats and disasters abounded or were on the horizon. People had every reason to give up, give in, and succumb to the times. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die, some might say. Yet, a voice reminds us that all is not lost, that there is hope for a better world. If only we have faith. If only we turn toward God and keep our focus.

Today, our world is no less threatening. Because it is happening to us, it seems worse than at any time in history. This is almost assuredly not so, but it is happening to us, so it feels foreboding and dangerous. We are all faced with our individual challenges as well, some more deadly than others of course, some more painful, more frightening, more life-changing.

But through it all, a voice calls to us to. The voice of the Gospel. The voice of Jesus.

In Christ we find the sanity, the peace, the patience and the comfort that we so desperately need during times like this.

Turn from your preoccupations with things that often you can but barely effect. Listen to the voice of the Lord. Repent and seek the straight pathway to your HOME.

That home is Christ.

Amen.

 

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tim
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 13:22:49

    Sherry, I’m often tempted to believe that all of the folderol we’ve saddled on Advent and Christmas is a subconscious attempt to avoid what this season asks of us–that is, committing our ways to God and placing our complete trust in the Prince of Peace. Setting our world aright is clearly beyond our means; otherwise we would have done it by now. We need Christ to come and smooth out our rough places, even out of discrepancies. And yet we can’t seem to focus our energy on opening our hearts to this possibility–not with all the planning and joy-making we’ve got to get done! The irony defies description.

    Thanks, dear friend, for these words today. How right you are: the work will be done, Christ will come to us, and if we are wise, we will seek Christ above all else during this holy season.

    Blessings always,
    Tim

    Reply

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