NOTE: Throughout the Advent season, we’ll post a reflection on the readings for the upcoming Sunday in Advent just a few days before so individuals and groups can reflect in anticipation or incorporate it into their meetings, homilies, etc. The reflection will be available on our homepage through the weekend and then archived on our Advent 2021 webpage.
The reflection below was originally written by Doris Donnelly in 1988 for our Advent reflection booklet, The Birthing of Justice: Advent 1988. It is the first reflection featured in this year’s reflection booklet, Guide Our Feet Into the Way of Peace: Reflections for Advent & Christmas 2021, a special commemorative booklet that includes reflections from the past 40+ years that Pax Christi USA has been publishing these booklets. It is still available for purchase at this link as an immediate download for your tablet or e-reader or as a print copy, both for $2.50.
by Doris Donnelly
Jeremiah 33:14-16 | 1 Thessalonians 3:12–4:2 | Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
I will raise up for David a just shoot,
one who shall do what is right and just in the land. (Jer 33:15)
Pregnancy has a way of radically dislocating one’s life and one’s focus. For example, as soon as the news of her pregnancy is confirmed, a woman no longer regards herself as a discrete being, a separate entity. Even before she “shows”, she knows that wherever she goes, whatever she does, she now carries another. As she waits and watches for signs of quickening, she banks on an astounding promise—that a mere seed invisible to the naked eye will develop into a child.
No part of a woman’s being is unaffected by pregnancy. She adjusts sleeping patterns, diet, exercise, career, travel, thought patterns and even relationships in deference to her unborn child. What becomes important—for Mary and for us as a pregnant community—is making room in our lives for Christ and removing from our lives whatever stands in the way of Christ’s life being born.
Jeremiah seems eager to verify that God’s promise, however mind-boggling, will be fulfilled. “The days are coming,” says the Holy One, “when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. I will raise up for David a just shoot, one who shall do what is right and just in the land” (Jer 33:14-15).
Paul reinforces the need to make room in our hearts and erase whatever stands as an obstacle in the way of Christ’s being born. “Conduct yourself in a way that is pleasing to God … learn to make still greater progress” (1 Thes 4:1). An adjustment to the new life is underway, and Paul is asking the Christian to look within, to enlarge the heart so that the life of Christ might develop without impingement.
But it is Luke’s gospel that plainly lays out for us what one commentator refers to as “the cosmic disturbance” that describes the realignment of loyalties at stake as Christ is aborning. Luke counsels an active waiting, a vigilance, to borrow a special word, to set us on guard for the working out of God’s promise. “Be on guard” (Lk 21:34). Luke is saying that our hunch that a new world is in the making is about to become real.
Jeremiah, Paul and Luke say get ready, yield the old world, get your priorities straight and your life in order because Christ now lives within us. And the pregnant body of Christ, the church, like Mary, says, “Let it be.”
Name one thing that stands in the way of Christ being born anew in you, your church, your family or community, the world. What adjustments can you make?
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