Reflection for the Vigil of the Third Sunday of Advent, 20012
December 14, 2012
by Evelyn Gregory, OSB
Readings: Galatians 6: 1-10 and Luke 3:10 -18
The December sky right before dawn is purple and blue tinged with pink. This is the color of Advent. Just as the morning begins to brighten the world with the coming of day, so Advent dispels our darkness and opens our hearts and spirits to the wonder of Christ’s coming. This is a moment of anticipation; the kingdom of God is upon us.
It is right that John the Baptist, the herald of the coming of the kingdom appears in today’s Gospel.
As John is baptizing, the crowds ask ‘What should we do?’ (Lk. 312)
‘What should we do?’ The crowd, the tax collectors, the soldiers all ask John the Baptist.
‘What should we do?’
John answers simply, “Share your clothing and food with those in need, be honest in word and deed, and be content with what you have.”
The answer given by John is like the psalmist’s, “Who will dwell in your tent, O Lord?” “The one who walks without blemish, who is just in all his dealings, who speaks the truth from his heart and has not practiced deceit with his tongue, who has not wronged his neighbor in any way, nor listened to slanders against his neighbor.” (Ps 14)
And again, “If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit, turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim.” (Ps. 33)
John’s response is not unlike the answer of Jesus given the rich young man–“If you would be perfect sell what you have and come follow me.” The clarity of the response brings discomfort!
How do we who have heard the “Good News” bear one another’s burdens--provide materially and spiritually for others, curtail violence, and promote justice in our world?
The journey of Advent takes us to the manger, to a singleness of purpose for our salvation and the salvation of the world. We are challenged to a simplicity of heart and spirit where we reach inward to greater authenticity become less encumbered with pretense and possession. We learn to let go of the chaff in our lives.
“I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming...to clear the threshing floor, to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn.” (Lk. 3:16-17)
Having let go of the chaff of unnecessary material possessions and psychological defenses, we are enriched by the Spirit, for “if you sow to the spirit, you will reap eternal life from the spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all...” (Gal. 8:10)
We do not grow tired and weary, “I have run the way because you have enlarged my heart.”
(Ps. 118:32) Being liberated from our fears and prejudices, we let go of discriminations, lingering resentments, and unforgiven injuries. With free and unburdened hearts we open the eyes of the blind, free the captives from prison, and release from the dungeon those who are in darkness.
The light of Christ overcomes our darkness and illumines the way for Christ’s coming within us.
Embraced in this light we cultivate forgiveness, grow in generosity, and hold all creation with gentle hands. Centered and thoughtful, we are enlivened with deep joy and hope.
At His coming, Christ gathers only the wheat of our authenticity, our singleness of heart. And the chaff will burn away
The journey of each Advent is new. It is a time of silence and stillness, of wonder and awe, a season for questioning, preparing, waiting, and fulfilling.
Our days begin and end with silent wonder.
Advent is the time of anticipation; for the Kingdom of God is upon us!
A Zen Poem
Devoid of thought, I sat quietly
by the desk in my official room
with my fountain-mind undisturbed,
as serene as water;
a sudden crash of thunder,
the mind doors burst open,
and lo, there sits an old man
in all his homeliness.