Thursday, December 4, 2014

Then and now

As I have mentioned before, the beginning of Advent looks toward the second coming of Christ. The prophet Isaiah continues to provide us with images of what that the fullness of the kingdom will be like.

For the LORD is an eternal Rock.
He humbles those in high places,
and the lofty city he brings down;
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.

But let us compare this to the canticle of Mary from St. Luke which is said every day in evening prayer.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

Very similar imagery but with one major difference, tense. In Mary's canticle in the gospel it is all said in a past tense, technically the present perfect. He has done it! What Isaiah prophecies, Mary proclaims as done. Even before the child is born she proclaims the coming of the fullness of Kingdom of God as a fait accompli, a done deal.

We look around and we constantly see examples of injustice, abuse of power. Humble people of faith cannot seem to catch a break. But if we look at the world through the eyes of faith we know that, as Mary describes it, God has already won.

This does not mean that we should just throw up our hands and wait. We must continue to speak out, to denounce violence, injustice, and everything that threatens to rob any person of the essential dignity. But when it appears that we have failed, we should not loose hope.

The wise men brought myrrh to the baby Jesus, foreshadowing the events of Good Friday, but gold also pointing to the king, the kingdom, the victory of Easter.