Advent 2016

Second Sunday of Advent - December 4th

Is 11: 1-10 // Ps 72: 1-2, 7-8, 12-12, 17 // Rm 15: 4-9 // Mt. 3: 1-12

Our God is a God of justice. This we know from the prophets’ call to care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. This we know from the tireless work through the ages of men and women of faith, inspired by God, to seek justice for the poor and the oppressed, from Saint Ambrose to Bartolomeo de las Casas to Dorothy Day. Today’s readings are insistent reminders of this truth of faith. “Justice shall flourish in his time,” we sing in our responsorial psalm, “and fullness of peace forever.” Amen, we say. Amen

But as we hear these words today, on the Second Sunday of Advent, as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the Incarnation, our sense of “justice” will be tested, strained, and stretched to the limit of our understanding.  We know in faith that, when the God of Justice took on flesh and appeared to us, he was born in a barn in a tiny town in a backwater province of the Roman Empire. When he lived, he lived without home or property, without wealth or position. “Foxes have dens, and birds have nests,” said Jesus, “but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” And when he died, he died stripped bare on a cross between two thieves. Where is God’s justice in this?  Where is God’s justice in the shining infant face that we will greet on Christmas morning?

If we ponder all this again today, we will consider God’s justice with a new eye, for it seems that the justice of God shows his first face in humility and in solidarity. God acts for us and in us above all because God knows and understands us in the darkest corners of our humanity.  For ourselves, then, we might ask whether our actions on behalf of the poor and marginal are rooted deep in the waters of mutual personal understanding.  Are we too quick to “solve” the problem that we ignore the pain that causes it. The God of justice teaches us to be just, first and foremost by connecting with us, by being “God with us,” Emmanuel. May we be “little christs” to those we meet today, and in the weeks and year ahead. Amen.

Kevin Hughes
Theology and Religious Studies