The readings for the day are available here.
Welcome! Every day during Advent, Campus Ministry will offer a new reflection by a member of the SLU community: faculty, staff, students, administrators from across the university. We hope that these reflections will be of value to you in your prayer and preparations and that this Advent season will be one of hope, joy and renewal for you.
Hope is at the heart of the readings for today, the first Sunday of Advent. We tend to think of Advent as preparation for Christmas, which has always seemed a bit strange to me: spending weeks waiting to remember something that happened two millennia ago. Except we aren’t just preparing to remember Jesus’ birth as if the story ended way back when; what Jesus inaugurated is “both already and not yet”: the coming of the reign of God, the full enactment of God’s will for the fulfillment of the human project. Jesus enacted the reign of God by his life, his preaching, his healing and forgiving, and he gave his life challenging every force of injustice and inertia that stood in the way of human liberation. But it is clear from looking at the world around us that Jesus’ life and ministry did not put an end to all the anti-reign forces that he opposed: intolerance, violence, self-righteousness and hard-heartedness are alive and well in our time as they were in Jesus’ time. We wait not only to celebrate what happened back then but our hope of the fulfillment of what Jesus began – the final overcoming of everything that opposes the flowering of life and well-being.
The first reading is brimming with that vision of a better world that we know in our guts is out there: a day in which we will beat swords into plowshares, when weapons and warfare will be no more, when we devote our resources to feeding people instead of killing them. While that kind of transformation may be beyond any political platform or agenda, beyond our ability to complete, we will never get there by waiting for it to come to us out of the sky. Hoping and waiting both have a future-orientation to them – and in the Romance languages even share a common root (think of the Spanish word esperar) – but hope is an active verb, a vision that keeps us moving forward rather than waiting for something to happen to us. We are not merely counting down the days until the 25th and going through the mental preparations to welcome Jesus – he’s already been here, and he’s already here now. We are retrieving the hope that sustains us, recalling what Jesus began and is calling us to continue – the dream of a world made new. Stay with us this Advent as we share many voices coming together to articulate that one vision of abundant life for all.