Disarming nations and hearts

The lectionary readings for Advent are full of promise and hope.

Isaiah’s vision of the peaceable Kingdom in Isaiah 2: 1-5, promises a new city where peace reigns, where swords are turned into plows and guns are melted down to make tools for life.

It’s almost too much to hope for.

The violence that surrounds us calls for something that will give hope. I’m not just thinking about ISIS and Ferguson; I’m thinking about the violence here, where the young are not spared and where all too often simple disagreements escalate into deadly quarrels, mostly because of the presence of too many weapons.

We need this hopeful vision that Isaiah offers – as inspiration for our work for peace and reconciliation.

But even today’s Gospel , Matthew 8: 5-11, offers us signs of hope. A Roman centurion comes to Jesus and asks him to cure his servant.

The Greek word used – παῖς – is ambiguous. It can mean servant, slave, or child.

Why would a centurion care about the health of a child servant? What moved him to seek the help of one of the conquered peoples? What caused him to declare his unworthiness before one of those oppressed by the Roman Empire?

What in the world – or out of this world – moved him to compassion?

What moves us from our fears and our desires to protect ourselves from others whom we consider as threats?

What can move the world to care for the little ones, the marginalized, the servants?

What can disarm our hearts?

Or, rather, who can disarm our hearts?

A loving God who comes among us as a poor man, in a conquered country.

A disarmed God can disarm us.

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