Sunday, December 14, 2008

Third Sunday of Advent

Waiting in Silence,
Waiting in Hope

"Celebration of Evensong"
Gaudate Sunday

Sr. Hildegard Pleva, OSsR

Readings: Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
John 1:6-8, 19-28

Drivers who frequently navigate previously uncharted territory know well the experience of entering a complex traffic junction, seeing a myriad of route signs and directives and having a moment of indecision and sheer panic; then, in the face of information overload, making a decisive move based on gut intuition alone. The decision is entirely our own. We just tune out everything else, amazingly compute the evidence, and act.

The readings at Mass today told us of John the Baptist. The words of Isaiah anointed him to be proclaimer of the Good News of salvation. And the Gospel of John gives us the words of his proclamation, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’…There is one among you who you do not recognize.” The Baptizer acts like a GPS, a‘global positioning system’ helping us through a confusing intersection. And he begs his followers to listen up.

How can we listen up? How can we listen up in our current “confusing intersection?” This intersection is overloaded with anxiety about war, global warming, finances, and most touchingly, our ability and our desire to care for one another. Our media-filled, digitally dominated, television addicted age makes listening up as difficult as spotting the right sign at a confusing traffic circle. To assume the posture of listening requires the cultivation of silence. That is a lot to ask at any time but particularly so now – the most frantic days of our consumer-driven culture.

John’s directive today, his plea to pay attention and prepare, and the invitation of all the liturgies of the Advent season call us to enter the silence; a silence reminiscent of Robert Frost’s snowy woods – “lovely, dark and deep.” Here we are invited to sink into the darkness to dwell in the presence of mystery. These days call us to ‘listen up’ – to withdraw, at least for a few moments, from the crowded market place and the frenetic super highway. This season, like no other, begs for recollection and silence in the presence of the mystery of the Incarnation. Only then will the true light penetrate our darkness. How else can we hear and respond to the words of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God.”

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