Monday, December 16, 2013

Signs of the Season
Advent is a time to renew our awareness of the countless ways that God discloses himself through signs, great and small.  In the events and moments and seeming coincidences of our daily lives, God charts a personalized plan for each of our lives.

But sometimes it is difficult to read God's signs.  Upon first glance, they can seem accidental, even obscure or irrelevant.  When we have eyes to see, however, everything fits together according to God's will.  The question is whether we will attune our vision to the most essential details of our daily lives.  After all, God's signs are usually small--like a grain of wheat fallen to the ground, or a "bump" in the womb of a young mother.

As we celebrate the fact that almighty God humbled himself to become one of us, let's remember that Jesus chooses to unite himself in a special way with the weak and the poor.  Our Lord centralizes the marginalized, even as he marginalizes those in central power (for their own good, of course). 

Let's remember that his Presence is a sign of hope for the least, and a cause of celebration for those of humble heart.  Thus, after Elizabeth rejoices at Mary's visitation, the Blessed Virgin sings out her praise of the Lord:

"He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. 
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."
(Lk 1:50-53)

Perhaps our prayer for the final days of Advent should be, "Lord, open our eyes":  Help us to identify, understand, and embrace the signs of Your will in our lives!

So what do you think about the fact that Pope Francis' global campaign to address hunger began precisely during the season of Advent?  The pope clearly hopes that the one Billion people who are undernourished or malnourished each day will benefit from this initiative.  But the effort hinges on those of us who are able to satiate our every passing pang of hunger: Will we succumb to the "culture of indifference," or will we see this sign as a call to conversion, a renewed challenge to share our daily bread? 
Christ broke into human history over 2000 years ago, and the in-breaking of God's Kingdom continues today.  Perhaps the fact that the one human family still hungers is a call for us to remain humble.  Perhaps it is an invitation for us to become signs of God's love during this season of plenty.