Advent has begun, in the midst of the darkness of winter in the northern hemisphere, in the midst of fears in the face of violence, in the midst of continuing war and poverty throughout the world.
As the sun set I sat and prayed evening prayer.
The first verse of the reading for Franciscan Morning and Evening Praise was 1 Thessalonians 5:19:
Do not quench the Spirit.
But so much around us tries to quench the Spirit.
But that has often happened, as Jeremiah noted. But the first reading from the lectionary is about the promise of God to raise up one “who will do justice and right in the land.
How much do we long for this.
But even more the Lord promises that the city of Jerusalem, that has been a place of injustice and idolatry, will be called “The Lord, our Justice.”
It seems too much.
To try to understand, I opened Dan Berrigan’s Jeremiah: The World, the Wound of God, pp. 146-7.
Fr. Dan calls us to constantly recall the promise.
“We too have been known to lose heart in evil times, under the soft savagery of the culture (and not so soft after all; consult the people subject to the bombs of our unsoft hands….
“And the declared enemies of the empire are by no means the only one assaulted. Against us also wars are declared, even though in a different form. This form: the dimming of vision.”
The dimming of vision, the loss of hope for the Lord, our Justice, is damning; it leads us to lose sight of God and of our very selves. We fall into fear and even despair.
We forget the promise. We forget our call. We quench the Spirit.
Reading an article in Goodness and Light, I came across this quote from Marianne Williamson, which is a call to revive the Spirit, to remember the call, to make the promise real.
You are a child of God. Your playing small for not serve the world… We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us…
Remembering this, we can reflect the Light of God in the darkness of our world.
This might be a good Advent practice, asking ourselves every day how I can reflect that light, that vision, that Spirit, which gives us the promise of “The Lord, our Justice.”