By Patricia Hunt
As we begin this Advent Series with the theme “We Wait in Joyful Hope,” Sunday’s Gospel certainly doesn’t start out that way. In fact, we can draw lots of similarities between the threatening signs mentioned there and our eerily similar current threats of COVID-19, climate change, civil unrest, racial inequality, worldwide refugees seeking asylum, and a polarized political system.
I remember commenting to a few people over the past year and a half that we seemed to be living the modern version of the Old Testament plagues. COVID took so many lives—I’m sure each of you reading this knows and mourns the loss of one or more members of your family, friends, co-workers or co-parishioners. We have read stories of undrinkable water, even here in the United States. The western United States saw the influx of ever more deadly bees. The whole country has seen terrible floods and fires.
Jesus warns us not to give in to the “anxieties of daily life” that come not only from our own humanness, but in our time, from the 24-hour news and commentaries (from all sources—both vetted and not so—from TV to radio to Internet and social media) that have intensified the angst in so many people.
Sunday’s second reading gives us the succinct answer to these anxieties and obstacles: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts.” May we prepare our hearts as well as our homes. May we have a little more patience with the grumpy person ahead of us in the long line to the cashier. May we be aware of the older person who may not realize their cart has been blocking the aisle for quite a while now.
Dear Lord, we pray for your Church Militant—those of us still here, still struggling, still striving to be the best version of ourselves. Please help us stay on the straight and narrow as much as possible, and when we do stray, please don’t let it be too far, so that we may more quickly get back onto the path with You, to You.
Each effort we make in this direction will strengthen our ability to “Wait in Joyful Hope,” as we “stand erect and raise our heads, because our redemption is at hand.”
Patricia Hunt resides in Syracuse and is a 30-year associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet. A recent retiree after 25 years of service to Syracuse University, Patricia began her career as a copywriter in radio and television advertising.