Tuesday, December 1, 2015

First Tuesday of Advent: Spirit Awakens

“The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding … a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD.” – Is 11:2

Isaiah 11 paints an idyllic vision of the spirit of the Lord resting upon Jesus, who inaugurates God’s Kingdom. This reign of justice and reconciliation is marked by peace and harmony even among natural predators and their prey:  “The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat … the baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea” (Is. 11:6, 8-9).

Yet, this vision seems distant given the rising global violence that Pope Francis calls a “Third World War fought piecemeal.” The recent attacks in Paris, the downed Russian plane over Egypt, and the suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon further dim the Isaian prophecy. Pope Francis' strong words recently woke me up: “Christmas is approaching: there will be lights, parties, lighted Christmas trees and manger scenes… it’s all a sham. The world continues to wage wars. The world has not comprehended the way of peace!”

I am stunned by his words. Even more as I admit humbly that I am more excited for the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18th, than for Christmas a week later. Currently for me, Christmas is a sham! I struggle to let God’s spirit land, much less become a resting place.

It has been said, in the spirit of Archbishop Oscar Romero, “the Kingdom of God is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.” Those in power killed Archbishop Romero. His dream for a peaceful El Salvador or a church truly for the poor only began to emerge a decade later. It remains an ongoing, slow growing shoot. The Spirit of the Lord - that divine force given to individuals to enable fulfillment of missions otherwise beyond them - rests in him, as it rests on Jesus.

That same spirit is promised to each of us. Pope Francis encourages us that Christmas can be redeemed by opening our hearts to God's invitation of mercy and friendship offered in Jesus. Spirit of God, awaken in me!

For a few minutes today, let us just stop, take 7 deep breaths and get in touch with an experience of being loved and cared for. Let’s allow the Spirit to awakened in us, transform us, rest on us.

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