The SecondSunday of Advent
December 9, 2018 at Saint William Church in Naples, FL.
In this second week of Advent, it might be a good idea to put the image of the desert in front of us because it is the antithesis of the mall. In the desert there is nothing to buy. In the mall it is all about noise and lights and crowds of people. In the desert the only light is the stars, a beauty that is beyond our reach yet seems to have been created for nothing more than our wonder and delight. All around us there are other kinds of deserts. There is one on our southern boarder where poor people wander seeking something better as they bet their lives on a chance for peace and safety. There are deserts of loneliness in the midst of big cities and in nursing homes everywhere. These are deserts of desperation and helplessness, and we don’t have to go far to find them. These are deserts created by selfishness and greed, by human sinfulness, by power abused for self-protection rather than service. Those who suffer in these deserts are never the guilty.
This prophet who speaks for God is speaking to us today. The promise of this season is made for people in these deserts, and we are being charged with a mission to straighten out some things. These mountains he speaks of are still dividing people from one another. Mountains of debt keep poor people and poor nations helpless and hopeless. The crooked paths that the helpless follow seeking a place that is safe for the sake of their children need to be straightened. Twisted words and lies need to be straight forward so that words of compassion and understanding may bring comfort where these is none.
We need courage to enter into the valleys of depression and desperation that have trapped our brothers and sisters for too long leaving them with loneliness and fear. The prophet calls us to build bridges and repair broken relationships healing old wounds sometimes by simply saying: “I’m sorry”. To do that, we have to bend low, come down off our mountains of pride and privilege. None of that will ever happen as long as we hang out in the Mall and distract ourselves in a season of commercialism and consumerism. It is desert time for the people of God. The promise of these readings, and for that matter, the promise of Christmas is made for desert people. When you already have everything money can buy, there is not much to hope for; but in the desert, we can re-discover our greatest needs, to be loved, cared for, forgiven, and healed. These are gifts we can give one another because they have already been given to us so often and so freely.