Advent is a time of promise and a time of waiting. Two verses from the Magnificat, Mary’s song in Luke’s Gospel, describe a future that does not yet exist. These verses voice promises of a future we still hope and wait for.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
“Who are you? What do you have to say for yourself?”
These are the questions put to John the Baptist, according to today’s Gospel. The authorities sent people to question him. The powerful people of the time, the representatives of the rulers, wanted to know what side he was on. Was he a threat to the powerful, to the authorities? They wanted to know whether he claimed to be the Messiah or Elijah. No, replied John, neither of those.
John quoted the prophet Isaiah: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.'”
That’s not reassuring. Like Isaiah, John is someone sent by God. His voice is the voice of a prophet, and prophets always threaten the powerful.
In today’s Gospel, the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, we read:
“As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Some sin is personal and some is social. Some sins are intertwined, the personal and social sin feeding on and supporting one another. Racism is such a sin.
“Sometimes, when you think globally, you can be paralyzed: There are so many places of apparently ceaseless conflict; there’s so much suffering and need. I find it helps to focus on concrete situations: You see faces looking for life and love in the reality of each person, of each people. You see hope written in the story of every nation, glorious because it’s a story of daily struggle, of lives broken in self-sacrifice. So rather than overwhelm you, it invites you to ponder and to respond with hope.
“These are moments in life that can be ripe for change and conversion.”
Early morning waking,
two cats in the bed.
Early morning shoveling,
wet snow below, bright sun above.
Afternoon dilemma: nap or walk?
Snow and ice or quilt and cat?
Am I 70 years old?
Or 70 years strong?
Bed beckons but I resist,
choosing blue skies, bright sun,
snow and slop and ice,
and Yak Trax.
Last time I tried these ice-biters,
I hated them.
But I am older now, and need
insurance for old bones.
Or so I think.
In half a block, the first one falls off.
Another block before I notice,
and retrace my steps to find it.
Carrying their failed coils, I continue,
down wet streets, through puddled alleys.
I'm 70 strong and, dammit,
I am gonna walk.
Tomatoes coming in, squirrels feasting, Mexican sunflowers blooming happily at the back fence. My first tomatoes came from Kenny at the beginning of the month, followed by my own. Haven’t had to buy any at the grocery store all month long!
After 90 degree days last week, these two days were a welcome relief, with temperatures down to the comfortable 70s.