We are reminded of what Jesus called us to; to be watchful, to be ready, to be ‘Light’.
It is something we have and give.
We are the subjects of our own history, the dreamers of dreams, the weavers of new ways of being together and transformation.
It is not about an ‘individualistic ‘waiting’ for the return of the saviour who is with us all the time but a movement toward creating a new way of relating which includes all of creation and those left out. Basically, Advent is about active waiting and an active struggle to transform, revolutionise our world now so that THIS world relflects all that we would want heaven to be!!
A revolutionary hope that looks to radically transform society is often diverted by religious institutions. People who are oppressed – whether because of sexuality, race, gender, nationality or class – are often taught to accept their own oppression in order to support such ‘hope-less’ institutions.
The scriptures have offered us words to use. We can say the words that are important to us. The words of ‘turning swords into ploughshares’ are the related to the work people who are liberated and work for the liberation of their neighbour. It is the work of walking in the light and putting these words into flesh. Society offers other words that do not liberate us or the neighbour. Society might even use words such as ‘salvation’ because it has been cheapened by escapist religious to mean that life is only worth something after death, in heaven. One writer suggests that ‘salvation’ too often means only ‘Put a nickel on the drum, save another drunken bum, Hallelujah.’ This is reductionist, not integral. It came to mean pie in the sky.
The point of Advent is that change is coming, and our part is to provoke it into being, and not to wait passively for its arrival. Jesus promises a change in the how the world is to be governed – from people upward and not top-down. It is God who reigns in the universe and whose Spirit is at its heart. It is this God who promises that the poor will inherit the creation and will live in a peaceable reign.
Advent is a time for us to celebrate a new way of relating to each other in the human community, to wake up and stay awake, to look for ways of doing justice, and as a pilgrim people, to learn the names of those we journey with, the names of our tools and mode of working for the liberation of others. The point is to change the world. Stay awake!
What better way to begin this time of Advent than to take Kabir’s advice and ensure that we are fully alive and ready to greet the One who comes at every moment and any moment. ‘Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive. Jump into experience while you are alive! ...What you call ‘salvation’ belongs to the time before death.’
The need to be fully awake and ever-alert is nothing new.
Jesus gave the same advice centuries earlier: ‘Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming ... Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour’ (Matthew 24:42, 44).
Paul agrees: ‘Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers’ (Romans 13:11).
I end with an Advent Credo penned by Daniel Berrigan (born 1921)
It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss--
This is true: For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life;
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction--
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever--
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world--
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church before we can be peacemakers--
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.
It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history--
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.
So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ—the life of the world.
From Testimony: The Word Made Flesh, by Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Orbis Books, 2004.