1989 Dec 3 – 1st Sun of Advent (Bulletin Letters)
Is 2, 1 – 5
Rom 13, 11 – 14
Mt 24, 37 – 44
2,3 December 1989
GOD’S DREAM/OUR ANTICIPATION: This weekend marks the beginning of a new Church year and the beginning of Advent, the season of anticipation of the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Our readings quickly get us into the theme of the season. The first reading from the book Isaiah is one of the most famous of all Bible texts. It is inscribed in front of the U.N. building in NYC and it has inspired the old folk- song: “I’m going to lay down my sword and shield…and ‘study war’ no more.”
It’s also been the inspiration for the Plowshares Nuclear Disarmament movement, people who have taken Isaiah’s words quite literally and have tried to beat modern day swords into plowshares. Larry Morlan, my friend from Federal Prison Camp in Marion, Illinois is one of these Plowshares activists. Larry got on top of a nuclear missile silo, outside of Kansas City, Mo. with a couple of other friends. With sledgehammers in hand and a deep faith in their hearts, they tried to beat a thermal nuclear weapon into a plowshare. They were arrested long before they were able to accomplish their task. Larry was given a six-year prison term. He has done over three years of his sentence with a possible release some time in the fall of 1990. The prophet Isaiah writes in poetic form of a world at peace where nations and peoples flock to the city of Jerusalem, which sits upon the highest of mountains. There the nations and peoples of the world will be judged by God. They will be instructed by the Lord on the ways of Peace, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. One nation shall not raise the sword against another nor shall they train for war again.” Isaiah, 2/4.
This week’s Gospel from Matthew is all about being ready when the Prince of Peace returns to finish his task. There is no way of telling exactly when that time will be, yet we are told to be prepared. Matthew warns us not to be like the people of Noah’s age who, “In the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and being married, right up to the day Noah entered the ark.” Matthew, 24/38.
In our second reading from Romans, St. Paul insists that being a Christian is like the difference between day and night. He writes, “Let us cast off deed of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans, 13/12. He warns his fellow Christians to “live honorably” and “make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” Romans, 13/14.
WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF THESE READINGS? Isaiah tells us God’s dream is one of world peace. As followers of Jesus we believe all of God’s dreams are fulfilled in Christ. Matthew tells us to be prepared, don’t let the everyday concerns of life get in the way of the work of the Master lest we not be ready when he returns. St. Paul tells us to make no provisions for the desires of the flesh. The life of a believer is as different from a nonbeliever as the day is different from night.
WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF THE TIMES? Dramatic changes are taking place behind the Iron Curtain. Communist governments have tumbled, human rights are being restored and there is talk of putting a ‘human face’ on socialism. All of this being done through nonviolent protest! This week in Rome, Pope John Paul II and Soviet President Gorbachev have made peace. Catholics will soon be free to worship throughout the Soviet Union. Great things are happening in the world today. It is ironic that most of the change and peaceful initiatives are coming from Communist countries.
WHAT ARE WE TO MAKE OF ADVENT? Advent is the season to prepare for the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Christ desires a world where war and weapons of war no longer exist. Are we doing our part to bring this peaceful world about? The witness of Larry Morlan and others in the Plowshares Disarmament reminds me, we have a long way to go. We need this season of Advent (now more than ever) to prepare us for the challenge that Peace has for our lives. Will we measure up?