Friday, December 6, 2013

Reflection for Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday of the First Week of Advent

The readings for the day are available here.

We have begun to settle into this season of almost painful waiting for the coming of Christ and the kin-dom of God. In this we can identify with the Israelites’ need for healing in their personal lives and in the community around them. God tells the Israelites, through Isaiah, that in a “very little time” they will experience a crucial and dynamic change, in which “On that day the deaf shall hear… And out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; All who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man, Who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just man with an empty claim” (IS 29).

At first glance this may seem like a message of triumphant overthrowing of the oppressor, of the empowerment of the weak and poor, and a removal of those who perpetuate arrogance, wealth, evil-doing, and self-serving righteousness. However, if we dare to challenge our conceptualization of the kin-dom of God, and what the Christian community of hope means, we can extrapolate from Isaiah’s words that God is not proclaiming an overthrow, a shunning of the righteous sinner, and a kin-dom that comes through their removal and exclusion. Rather Isaiah offers to us this image: “Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction” (IS 29). The kin-dom will be one where the sinner in each of us, the unjustly righteous, the self-servingly arrogant within each of us will be removed, and each member of our Christian and global community will come to find their “blindness” cured, their economic, social, emotional, and spiritual poverty filled, and their shame removed.

For the Israelites this process of the coming of the kin-dom began in the embodied coming of Christ. For their community as well as ours, the true answer to our prayer “thy kin-dom come” is striving for living justly: here, now, today. Our hope lies in each other, in a sharing of our brokenness, a collective bearing of our burdens, and an identification with our neighbor which removes them from the identity of “other” and places tyrant and oppressed, wealthy and poor, righteous and lowly side by side, hand in hand, heart and heart.

When we realize that our shared kin-dom comes about only through our shared joy and suffering, we realize what Christ has called us to do. When we hear in the Psalms, “I believe that I shall see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living” we must accept the call to begin to actualize our belief and hope in God here and now, being Christ to those around us as we await the fullness of his coming and kin-dom (PS 27:13). In Matthew we hear of Jesus healing two blind followers only once they have assured him that they ask simply out of their belief that he can heal their blindness. This season of anticipation and preparation calls us to spend intentional time contemplating what it means to foster for ourselves the bringing about of the kin-dom of God as we await the second coming of Christ in remembrance of his life on Earth. Christ will heal our blindness, if only we will lay at his feet our belief in Christ’s ability, and approach humbly to ask.

Maria Bednar is a sophomore majoring in Theology and minoring in Urban Poverty Studies, Global and Local Social Justice, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

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