Fourth Sunday in Advent Reflection
When last have you leapt for joy?
We flick a switch and have light. We open a faucet and we have water. We dial a number on our smart phones and communicate with friends across the world. We have sent our machines to other planets across the galaxy and gathered knowledge beyond our wildest dreams and desires. Our bodies break and decay and medicine replaces bits and pieces, extends life and eases suffering. We snip, nip, tuck and paint our bodies to create what we believe to be the image of beauty. We protect ourselves and our property with private security armies and alarm systems. We have subdued and control nature which is now someplace we visit. Just like our manicured care homes, nature is now something out there, apart from us.
Yes! We believe and have come to trust technology and science. These are the things that we have created and these are the things which we trust, the things we believe in, and the things in which we place our hope. This is the great success and seduction of our age. Our knowledge has been enthroned as our hearts have become commodities. Our success overwhelms us. And we buy, and we buy!
Far Removed From God’s Gifts
The spirit of humanity has become something far removed from God’s gift, replaced now by our own personal and individual ambitions. We have been seduced into being constantly connected to the machines of our technology. This has affected our ability to connect to the lives of the people around us. Group chats on WhatsApp now all too often replaces personal interaction. We have lost our connectedness with God, with nature and even with each other. But perhaps most terribly, we have lost our connectedness with ourselves; the Spirit of God that animates us … and so we have lost our blessedness.
“And so I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Mt. 12:31-32)
We no longer leap for joy recognising the wonderful gift that each and every one of us is to our world.
This is the great burden we now carry for this terrible disconnect and so we try to buy joy, replacing presence to each other with glitzy presents for each other. We have been entranced and now steer boldly into the dark allure of the abyss of annihilation.
Stripping Away the “Otherness”
This dark allure within us is reflected in politics we see evolving globally. Nationalism and liberalism follow different strategies, but they share the same purpose. They leave little or no room for forms of community beyond the levels of the state and loyalty to the state. Whereas nationalism aims to annihilate difference; the purpose of liberalism is to annihilate the different. In both cases the “others” have to be stripped from their “otherness” in order to become indistinguishable from the rest of the nation. Ethnic and other forms of local identities have thus to be melted down to become part of the singular mould of the national identity.
In the face of all this, where does our hope lie?
We face the challenge of an inward journey of discovery; the reconnection not only with the “God with us”, but the reconnection with “God within us”. At the very core of our being we can come to recognise once more God’s Spirit, the Breath of God, and the Rua that animates God’s creation.
Leaping for Joy at ‘God With Us’
Coming face-to-face once more with the Holy Wonder and awe at the wonder of our being. It is from this point that we can once more recognise our natural affinity towards good. It is also from this advantage point that evil is exposed for what it is.
This is our work on this last leg of our Advent preparation to recognise the little vulnerable child that came to us at Bethlehem; a little child that continues to come to us. Then we also can leap for joy at recognising “God with us” who is at the same time “God within us”.