4th Sunday of Advent 2012 Robert VerEecke, S.J.

4th Sunday of Advent 2012
Robert VerEecke, S.J.
We wait, we wait, we wait in joyful hope, until you come again Lord Jesus
We sang those words together at the beginning of the Advent season four
Sundays ago. And now we are nearing the end of the Advent season and the
beginning of the Christmas season. We are still waiting, but in “joyful”
hope? Yes, we are waiting for many things. We are waiting for an end to the
insane violence that destroys the life of innocent victims as we saw so
tragically in the events of Newtown CT a week ago Friday. We are waiting
for people in power to make non-partisan decisions about gun control. We
are waiting for an end to violence of all kinds, in all places where innocent
lives are victims. We are waiting for a “new world” where justice and peace
really do have the last word. We are still waiting for the coming of God’s
“peaceable” kingdom.
We are still waiting but with so much evidence of violence around our world
can we honestly wait in Joyful hope?
That same first Sunday of Advent when we spoke of joyful hope, we heard
the Gospel reading about the end times, the cataclysmic ending of the world
as we know it: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars. On
the earth nations will be in anguish, distraught at the roaring of the sea and
waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming.”
As you know the world as we know it was supposed to end last Friday on
12-21-12 according to some interpretations of the Mayan Calendar. Well,
we are still here. Another prediction of the “end of time” that just didn’t
happen. But the world did come to an end the Friday before, 12-14-12, for
all those immediately affected by the tragedy in Newton. For them, the
world will never be the same. There are those cataclysmic events in people’s
lives, whether it be a natural disaster, or human acts of horrific violence, that
do bring the world to an end for those whose lives have been destroyed.
The world as they knew it no longer exists. One only has to see the images
of those young children whose lives were so brutally robbed from them to
know that the end of the world has taken place.
But we are still here and we are still invited to wait in joyful hope. And if
joy is not the absence of sorrow but rather the presence of God, as Fr. Joe
O’Keefe said in his homily last week, what does it mean to wait in joyful
Let’s turn for a moment to the Gospel of the Visitation for an image that
may give us a counterpoint to the images of death, destruction and
unspeakable sorrow that have flooded the media these last days. Look and
see two pregnant women who come together to celebrate the new and
completely unexpected life within them. Never could Mary or Elizabeth
have dreamed that they would be “expecting.” Elizabeth past the age of
child bearing and Mary never having had relations with a man. Two
remarkable women who are celebrating life, living the Magnificat moment
where their spirits soar with wonder and gratitude because of the marvels
God has done for them. Look at these two women in the embrace of each
other, whirling and swirling in a divine dance of life, blessing and promise.
Yes, we know that the future for them both will bring unspeakable grief
when each loses a son to a violent death. John to a beheading and Jesus to
the cross. Both victims of violence at a very young age. But for the now,
this is a Magnificat moment. “For behold, the moment when I heard your
greeting, the babe in my womb leapt for joy.”
Can we be still and just hold on to this image? For it is an image of hope
and promise. Two pregnant women, one whose babe leaps in her womb for
joy. For anyone who has ever danced, there is no movement more satisfying
than a grand jete. It’s the soaring leap that defies gravity, when a dancer lifts
off the ground and extends her body through space. (I remember when one
of my closest dancer friends was pregnant and taking dance classes. It was
quite a wonder to see her flying through the air in a great leap across the
floor, eight months pregnant.)
Whether it be a dancer’s leap, an athlete’s leap or just an everyday “leap for
joy,” you may know the feel of this “defying gravity,” defying the forces
that pull us down, weigh us down, bring us back to earth.
That is what, believe it or not, we are being asked to do on this 4th Sunday of
Advent when we are still “waiting in joyful hope.” We are asked to leap for
joy at the coming of our savior and “defy gravity.” That gravity is the weight
of human existence that sometimes takes the form of violence, of fear which
leads to arming oneself against the other. But we as Christians are asked to
give into another kind of “Wait.” A waiting with open arms for the coming
of our Savior. We are still asked to be “still” and wait and know that God is
with us and for us and that is reason to “leap for joy.”