Fr John’s Reflection – First of Advent

First of Advent – 29th November

Guiding Star

 Over the last few weeks, much attention has been focused on the results of the US Election. This has not just caused us to reflect on the electoral process that has taken place but also the varied standpoints which have emerged about whether the result was free and fair. In many cases, this has depended more on which side of the fence one sits rather than on the facts. It appears more than an opinion about those facts has greater credence than the facts themselves. It appears that truth becomes a disposable commodity which counts for little in an era which has thrown doubt on what actually constitutes news. In the midst of the turmoil which has resulted in questions being raised in what and whom we should believe. There is a danger in a post-modern world that truth becomes whatever we want it to be rather than having an inherent value in itself. In a world in which power is vested not so much in belief but rather in external force, we see people become easily disorientated and disengaged with the very process which seeks to give them a voice in their governance. When we do not trust ourselves, we can notice how quickly chaos and disorder can follow.

Yet into this maelstrom, we begin the season of Advent which focuses on the coming of Christ into a disordered and chaotic world. A world which tended to focus on the external expression of belief rather than on an interior conversion of heart. The question of what we believe becomes transformed by the person who meets us in our disbelief. We find ourselves transformed by a person who speaks to the heart of our life and to the heart of our creation. In the midst of the confusion which we have encountered during the year, he seeks to bring a peace which disturbs us with love and joy. This calls us to see the whole of creation with an abiding loving presence. The call to see the whole of creation giving birth to God’s plan for our salvation.

This message is never more prevalent than in a world which is focussed more on the use of power rather than stewardship of what has been entrusted to us. Old wounds have been quickly opened and can fester if left untreated. There can be spirits that rage within us which seek to promote division and anger. The geopolitical map has shifted and fractured in a way which has happened so quickly that many fear the return to old conflicts left unresolved. Yet this is where we need to listen to the Good News which seeks reconciliation between people. This reconciliation is hard-won and easily lost. It seeks a forgiving spirit which finds its origin in God and not solely through our own will power.

What we seek is not cheap grace which covers over the cracks of humanity with a false balm. It calls for individuals, communities and nations to discover not just what divides us but rather the deeper values that abide within us. What makes for peace is listening to a narrative which is more than just our perception of the other but rather listening to the heartbeat which works for the greater good of all. God enters into our human story to bring about this deeper listening which meets our deepest longing not just our wishful thinking. In these days of Advent, we are called to listen for whom will become our guiding star.

Fr. John Armstrong