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 2022 webpage.
For the first Sunday of Advent, we’re offering two reflections. The first from our Bishop-President, Bishop John Stowe, OFM Conv, can be found at the link below. The second is from The Nonviolent God is with Us: Advent 1992, written by Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Jim Douglass. It is reposted in its entirety below.
by Jim Douglass
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
“God shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not lift up sword against another nation, neither shall they learn war any more O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of God.” (Is 2:4-5)
The reading from Isaiah defines the nonviolent coming of God that we await. I had the foretaste of that promised peace while on a walk from Jerusalem to Jericho. Our international group of walkers carried banners that said, “FOR A JUST PEACE” in Hebrew, Arabic and English. Some of our walkers were Israelis, and we were joined by Palestinians.
In the West Bank, where peace walkers are forbidden by closed military zones, we were arrested on the first day by the Israeli Defense Forces — then bussed back to our starting point, Jerusalem, where we were released with stringent warnings. We then hired a bus of our own to return to the West Bank so we could pick up our walk route near the Palestinian Christian village of Taibeh (“Ephraim” in John 11:54, where Jesus retreated with the disciples before going to Jerusalem).
When we got off the bus on the outskirts of Taibeh, we were joined by twenty Palestinians from the town who wanted to walk with us, in violation of the closed military zone.
The walk into Taibeh begins. More and more Palestinians, especially young people, are joining it. I keep wondering, “When will the soldiers come?” I know that a military patrol is almost certain to discover our growing movement.
As we reach the crest of a hill, several of us turn and look back down. What we see is no longer a walk, or even a parade, but a sea of people coming up the street, surrounding us, embracing us.
As our sea of humanity flows over the hill, we see an Israeli army jeep approaching us. The driver, a lone Israeli soldier, is armed and no doubt frightened by the solid wall of people advancing down the hill toward him. The isolated occupier is about to be enveloped by the occupied.
As his jeep slows down to meet the head of the march, the people part like the sea before Moses. And the Israeli soldier in his jeep drives peacefully through the hundreds of walking Palestinians. There is no incident. And in spite of the lone soldier’s observation of this massive violation of a closed military zone, no more soldiers come.
Our crowd ends the march by surging around the Catholic Church of the Holy Redeemer which is at the center of Taibeh. We are singing, “We Shall Overcome,” with young women of the town leading us in Palestinian verses.
That night what seems to be the entire population of Taibeh jams into the village square in front of the church for a wild celebration. We are told that because of the strict curfews night after night — when those outside are liable to be shot — this is the first celebration of any sort that has been held in Taibeh since the intifada began, three and a half years ago. This night the soldiers never came.
I experienced the nonviolent coming of God among the people of Taibeh. And I met a nonviolent coming of God in the lone Israeli soldier in his jeep.
What experience of the nonviolent coming of God have you had?
>> For more Advent resources and reflections, click here.