by Carol Powell
Once again, the Church year has begun with the season of Advent. This is a time of hope, of preparation, of expectation. Despite all past mistakes – globally, nationally or personally – we can open ourselves to a spiritual renewal. We are reminded once again that the coming of God into the world through Christ did not happen in a perfect world.
Nations were warring against other nations then as they are now. Cruelty and hatred abounded. The powerful were exploiting the weak and vulnerable. Might meant right as egotism and pride abounded. The wealthy were considered blessed while the poor were judged accursed.
Into this mess, the Word of God became flesh. He did not come as a wealthy, powerful Lord of the universe. He came as a tiny, helpless baby to turn upside down all notions that people have of what constitutes greatness.
The God of Heaven and Earth who placed the planets in their orbit, who penetrates all reality chose to tell us who God is by the way He came to us: tiny, helpless, frail and needy. No longer are the great those people who control everything, who rule with an iron hand, who are arrogant and condescending. Now the great are those who serve others, who humble themselves, who put others first.
Therefore, when we speak about Christian values, we need to ask ourselves what is our attitude toward the poor, the unwanted, the weak, the needy in our society and yes, even in our families. Christ came as a tiny baby. Now He identifies Himself with the least among us.
Our Advent preparation needs to include an inventory of how we value other people. Is it based on their income, status or success in life or is it based on their basic human dignity as persons? Christ’s poor are all around us, not only the financially poor, but also the poor in love, those displaced by war who are looking for a home, the disabled, the physically and mentally ill, anyone else whom society deems unsuitable.
Our concern – or lack of it – as persons, as a nation, as a Church, as a world, indicates how ready we are to welcome the humble Christ Child this Christmas.
We cannot open ourselves to the birth and growth of the Christ-life within us this Advent season unless we are prepared to open our hearts to everyone regardless of race, nationality, gender or religion. Prejudice, bigotry, hatred toward any group regardless of the reason is anathema to Christianity and to the Word of God, who united Himself to the human so that all humankind might become one with God.
In spite of our differences, we need to pray to God this Advent to open our hearts to the Sprit of reconciliation and peace, for we cannot praise God and curse our brothers and sisters whoever they are.