The Perspective of Justice
Neglecting the Present
Advent is a time to recognize that we are “sinful; all of us have become like unclean men, all our good deeds are like polluted rags.” Our personal and social sins are many: hatred, violence, oppression, indifference, selfishness, etc.
Advent is also a time of “longing for Christ our Savior,” a time in which we “wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus.” We look forward to the celebration of Christmas, the commemoration of Jesus’ birth, but we also look forward to the “promise and hope” of heaven, which we want God to “teach us to love.”
The longing for Christ causes us to want things to change for the better. We want God to find us “blameless on the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” With Isaiah’s words in mind: “Would that you might meet us doing right, we ask God to increase our strength of will for doing good.”
Advent, then, is an expression of our faith in the possibility of a better world. We don’t have to be at each other’s throats. We can ‘do right’ in the areas of race relations, family obligations, and personal responsibilities. We can ‘do good’ to the poor, the elderly, the homeless, and to all our brothers and sisters at home and abroad. We can become blameless, beacons of social justice, examples of faith and love, peacemakers.
The message of Advent is to “be constantly on the watch!” We base this constant watch not on fear but on hope in God’s “promise of eternal life.” The promise of Christmas is a joyful anticipation that “The Lord will shower his gifts, and our land will yield its fruit.”
All too often Christians are faulted with a certain indifference toward earthly projects, as if one could not fully count on us for radical social reform. The charge may be unfair, but the danger is real enough. Our hope in another life must not be allowed to seduce believers into neglecting our task in the present one.
U.S. Bishops, Pastoral Letter
on Marxist Communism, 1980:42
Now published in book form, To Love and Serve: Lectionary Based Meditations, by Gerald Darring This entire three year cycle is available at Amazon.com.
**From Saint Louis University