Sunday 3 December 2017

About Today Readings

Advent Season of Creation. First Sunday of Advent. Week I Psalter. St Francis Xavier.

Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8. Psalm 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19. 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Mark 13:33-37.

Lord, make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved – Psalm 79(80):2-3, 15-16, 18-19.

God’s ways are not our ways.



The scripture readings for Advent, this time of expectation and preparation, begin on an unusual, even jarring, note. Isaiah, the virtuous person, feels tainted by the world around him. Even the good things he has done seem contaminated by wrong-doing, his and that of others. He cries out in anguish blaming God for his and indeed all human “sin”.

This is our cry; “Lord the world is in such a mess and there is so much wrong. I have tried so hard and done so much good, but it is all messed up by the bad that happens.”

There are three points from this. Firstly, Isaiah speaks to God from within a loving human relationship, in which he trusts. God does not ask for merit in order to relate to him. Isaiah knows God as a doting, kind parent and redeemer, someone who guides us, like a potter working with clay.

Secondly, his first impulse is to blame others, even God, for the wrongs which he finds hard to explain, or which he has done. Pope Francis points to this “natural” human tendency in relation to refugees, noting in his homily at Lampedusa the moral vacuousness of trying to lay individual blame for the loss of refugees and migrants at sea (for instance, because of people smugglers) rather saying that we all in some way are responsible for the situation, through our own interlinked actions and inaction.

In the same manner, the deterioration of the natural environment does not find its cause in any one person, government or company – insofar as it has its root in human activity, it is the result of actions to which we all contribute in some manner.

Thirdly just as we contribute all individually and collectively to the wrongs of our world, God’s redemption does not only deal with us as individuals. God relates to us also as a people. We need to find ways to act with others to begin to remedy bad situations.

The good news is that God meets us at the point of this would-be denial. There is a need to be alert to both our own tendency and the possibility it contains for God.

Let us ask for the grace of trust, as we begin our Advent journey, to listen and become more sensitised to God’s ways, and to let God lead us in these weeks.

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