Choose for Joy- A chapter Talk given at Redwoods Abbey on the Third Sunday of Advent

Listen to these excerpts from the first reading for this Third Sunday of Advent: “Be glad and exult with all your heart” (Zeph 3:14-18a). “Fear not…be not discouraged…”. “God will renew you in his love…”.

And now listen to similar words from the epistle: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4-7). “Have no anxiety at all…” “In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” Sisters, note: we are to bring EVERYTHING to God. We hear in other scripture texts, especially the psalms, that God knows the intention of our heart even before we express it…However, the Philippians reading tells us that we are to bring everything, and bring it with ‘prayer, petition and then to remember as well, thanksgiving, thanksgiving for the present moment and all that has happened before. With the faith-filled attitude that is in this text we then hear the fruit of our supplication and prayer: ‘The peace of God…will guard your hearts and minds in Christ’.

In the Gospel reading (Lk 7:24-30) those who have come to John the Baptist, while anticipating the Coming One, ask ‘What shall I do’?
Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar comments on these readings: “All that is asked of us is that we not let our heads droop in unbelief or mistrust about whether God will keep his promise” (Light of the Word, p.262).

And then, Karl Rahner, in the vigil reading we heard, wrote: “Is this joy, this Advent joy so difficult? Is resignation and hidden despair really easier?…You have my heart already chosen the joy of Advent” (The Key of Faith, Adolph Adam, p.15). Well, have we? What have we chosen, have we chosen ‘the joy of Advent’, resting in the joy of longing and anticipation? It is not too late. The One who is coming, whose nature is ‘Advent’, he will not stop coming! We are being called to look at our attitude. Two great theologians are telling us not to droop our heads and hearts, and to choose the joy of Advent.

Once again, our attitude is so important: are we surrendering in faith before this existential, Divine-human exchange? Are we surrendering enough to feel our anticipation of the Coming One? Are we able to delight in this anticipation that is endemic to Advent? Or are we going to be dower, having a drooping heart and mind? Are we going to choose Advent? Or are we going to choose to ‘give up’, to stand aside and criticize, to revert to a an ‘I-It posture’ where we cut ourselves off from this Divine-human encounter where God’s very life is to be bestowed upon humanity and all of creation?

The choice is clear…it was clear for Mary. Her ‘yes’ is a paradigm for our ‘yes’, her journey for our journey. The Spirit is overshadowing us now…let our ‘yes’ root us in a living faith, open us to receive the new of God that yearns to become more a part of our very life and being.