Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent Reflection 2: The Voice Crying in the Desert

I wish I lived in Springfield, VA so I could hear Rev. Luis Fernando Franco more often. He is the Colombian pastor for the Hispanic community at St. Bernadette's Catholic Church and is someone who hits the right notes more often than not. This is an English translation of his Advent reflection from the Boletin Interparroquial of 12/6/2009.

On the second Sunday of Advent, Luke begins the text of the gospel by reminding us that John the Baptist appeared at a specific moment in human history, the historical-geographical framework in which he developed. God's salvation is not something that happens on the margin of history, of daily life, of the problems, worries, hopes and joys of people. We have to prepare the way in our history today for the God who comes with the gift of salvation.

The Word of God is not addressed to the powerful of the earth. The Tiberiuses, Pilates, Herods are not qualified to receive it. Nor is the Word of God addressed to the men who live in the Temple, who don't live for God, but off of God. They are religious merchants. They speak about God but they don't listen to Him.

The Word, addressed to everyone, comes upon the one who doesn't belong to any hierarchy, who has neither money nor power, who gives witness to austerity and humility and who doesn't block its way. It comes in the desert, a place of silence, of reflexion, of a friendly encounter with God. The one who listens to the Word feels impelled to proclaim it, to spread the Good News. He can't keep it to himself.

John's words invite us to conversion, to a change of direction, to renew our faith, stretch our hearts, expand our hope, and to a commitment to build a better world for all. He announces a baptism of conversion which is not just a rite, but a real change of life.

Preparing the way is a program for us. Preparation is equalizing human relationships that must go from inequality to equality, from injustice to justice. Where there are mountains of arrogance, selfishness and injustice, let us put humility, solidarity and charity. Where there are hills of vanity, ambition and envy, let us put kindness, sincerity and forgiveness.

Do we make it possible for God to pass through our personal, family, work, religious and social lives? The salvation Jesus brings us is for everyone. To be able to receive it we must prepare the way and ask ourselves what things still have to be "smoothed out", "filled in", "made low", "straightened out", "leveled" our personal and communal paths.

Jesus brings you love, peace, freedom. You will see the salvation, you will be filled with salvation, you will feel saved. And now, what do you have to do? Well, become God's salvation for others! Smooth, straighten, and even out the scandalous inequalities that exist in the world.

God bless you.

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