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Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 18, 2011

By Sister Michelle G.

For the past 3 weeks of Advent, I’ve been reminded off and on of Harvey Milk’s quote:

I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living.

Hope is the reason we persevere against all odds. In the cycle of our liturgical year, newly begun each Advent, we traverse the salvation story of our lives, leaning on the hope of a God who became one of us in Jesus to show us how to live, how to love, and how to get in touch with the deepest longings of our hearts to be in union with that God of love, of mystery, and of wisdom.

Unfortunately, in our world, there are those who have figured out how to tap into those longings and seduce us with false hopes.  They have replaced our longings for union with God with addictions, conditionings, with junk food for the soul as well as the body, with the belief that immediate gratification by more new and improved gadgets will satisfy our deepest desires.

Our Advent liturgical season has been an opportunity to look into our own hearts.  The scripture readings have admonished us to be vigilant but also to take comfort in the enveloping love of a God who knows our weaknesses, our propensity to take the short cuts to short-term security.  This God will see us through if only we ponder the mystery and, like Mary, enter into the fullness of the invitation to believe that all things are possible with God when we collaborate with the grace offered to us.

There are no promises of “cheap grace” as Dietrich Bonhoffer termed it; there is rather the call to be a sign of contradiction, a countercultural witness, a person/community willing to be awake to the possibility of evolving toward greater awe and reverence for the gift of God’s coming into our hearts and world.  That is the kind of movement that makes life worth living and brings real hope to those who want to leave a future full of hope for our descendants.

Read reflections from the First, Second, and Third Sundays of Advent. In Spanish.

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