Baruch 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3: 1-6
Advent leads us to “discern what is of value,” St. Paul says, so that we “may advance secure in the glory of God,” St. Paul says in Philippians and to us today. Who doesn’t want to be secure and gain what is valuable? We all know this, but we can lose sight of it. It takes time and patience. Time and patience, the key words of Advent, run against the grain of American life. We Americans are always in a hurry and distracted. We live in a digitalized world. Fragmented. We may not focus for long so we may not notice what’s of value.
Notice, Baruch says, “God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low.” They are “made low.” God is ‘making low.’- the mountains and us. When we are made low, we see-if,we are patient and take time to focus and see. We can seethe divine presence, “the salvation of God,” as Isaiah says, to those who wait patiently. We can notice that God is acting.
For example, when you’re walking through a neighborhood,you see much more than when you are driving. One sees more. But who walks anymore!? We drive everywhere! Why? Because it’s faster, right? ‘Fast’ does not allow us to see God. We ‘fast pass’ Him by- like on the Interstate! We see the presence of God hidden in our reality. It is this for which we wait to see. This is Christmas, the manifestation of God, the Epiphany, in our daily lives. Paul prays today that we “may increase ever more in knowledge and every kind of perception and discern what is of value.” We in Harrodsburg, do we see the hidden presence of God, revealed in our everyday activities? Do we recognize God hidden when a difficult task we had been putting off, dreading, a task or a conversation with someone, for example, is easier than we had expected?? This is learning is God’s grace; it is “what is of value.” God acts on us and in us. Sometimes we think we’ll never‘get the job done,’ and then, somehow we do. Where did that come from? That’s God’s grace, pushing us forward.
Sometimes life brings us low like those valleys and hills. It doesn’t feel good. It’s a penance, penitential. Advent is a penitential season. “The difficult clerk in the store, the congested traffic,and daily challenges of life can try our patience this time of year. We can respond impulsively, or we can realize that buried deep within us is the power of grace” (Gregory E.S, Malovetz). It’s a penance to recognize our limits, our missteps, our sins. We know we need a savior. We have one. God is active in us,helping us to see. Paul says today God can complete the good work He has begun in us. This is of ultimate value. Notice it – happening now! Take a walk around your neighborhood! Practice ‘mindfulness’ as a magazine in a supermarket checkout aisle is proclaiming. Do it for your own good and, as Paul says today,“for the Glory and praise of God.”