Reflection for Sunday – December 13, 2020

Readings: Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John: 1:6-8, 19-28
Click here to download a PDF of this homily.
Preacher: Sr. Janet Korn

Advent is generally a hopeful, festive, and positive time of the year, at least in the United States, but this year is different for us. We are not all on the same page when thinking about our country. Some of us are pleased and rejoicing over the presidency of Joe Biden and vice presidency of Kamala Harris; others are angry and saddened. There are a few who don’t care at all. Thousands of United States citizens have been very sick; others have lost loved ones. Advent can be a time for healing, but, for the most part, we will have to work at it!

Isaiah offers us words of strength and encouragement; “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted, he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and the opening of the prisons to those who are bound and to comfort all who mourn.”

Isaiah announces a transformation in the world, and we know that transformation doesn’t happen by itself. We all have to do our part in the healing of our Nation. Advent means waiting for something… waiting for hope, waiting for goodness, waiting for joy. Anticipation of Christmas evokes an emotional response, yet this year is offset by feelings of helplessness. The present seems dark.

On the morning of Nov. 6, 2020, many of us in the United States and around the world rejoiced and shed tears of joy and danced. We felt renewed energy and a willingness to give more of ourselves to heal our broken country. We could have sung the words spoken by Isaiah. We are ready and willing to heal the broken hearts of those who lost friends and family to Covid 19; to work to eliminate racism; to welcome the immigrants and asylum seekers who are facing starvation and possible death. Like Isaiah, God’s spirit will send us renewed energy and wisdom to heal all that separates us, one from another. This will not be an easy task. Some lines are already “drawn in the sand.” John’s gospel today is an example of understanding who we are and who we are not. John the Baptist proclaims that he is not the Messiah: that he came to proclaim who is the Messiah, to point out the truth. John is not the focus of his preaching. He has a mission to set other people straight: to know the truth. He, himself, was not the focus and he wanted to be clear about this with the authorities who were investigating him.

We, too, have the responsibility to share respectfully what we know to be true; to use our gifts as John did to point people in the right direction without being obnoxious. We also must be aware of what obstacles keep people from seeing the truth. We may feel, like John, that we are crying out in the desert, but his voice finally got heard and so will ours.

The most notable person in the advent season is Mary of Nazareth and our psalm today speaks of her humility and her strength. She hastens to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. Elizabeth knew, as well, what God was doing in and through Mary. These two women rejoiced together about the workings of God in their lives. In her greeting to Elizabeth, Mary acknowledges her own simplicity and her understanding of the God who loved her. The God that Mary knew was one who brings down the haughty and the powerful, who sent the rich away empty and who filled the hungry with good things. Mary’s God was one constantly working with the brokenhearted and with those in need.

In these days before Christmas, when our country is suffering from a massive and serious virus, accompanied by unnecessary deaths and exhausted health care workers, let us remember in our hearts and prayers all those who have been affected by this disease.

One last thought, and I find this hard to do, is to say a prayer for President Trump. May he discover some sense of himself and what he has done to thousands upon thousands of his followers for giving them false information about the virus and causing unnecessary deaths and terrible pain to millions of U.S. citizens. And, let us not to forget to pray for President Biden and Vice-president Kamala Harris, that they may lead the nation with wisdom, integrity, and truth.

Sr. Janet Korn, RSM
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