How can I be a bearer of hope?

Thinking Anew

A health worker administers a  Covid-19 vaccine to a person in Bimbo,  in the Central African Republic;   the challenge is as much to obtain the vaccine as to convince people of its necessity. Photograph:  Barbara Debout/ AFP via Getty

A health worker administers a Covid-19 vaccine to a person in Bimbo, in the Central African Republic; the challenge is as much to obtain the vaccine as to convince people of its necessity. Photograph: Barbara Debout/ AFP via Getty

 

Tomorrow is the Second Sunday of Advent. Soon we’ll be halfway through the annual reminder to prepare for the second coming of Jesus at the end of time. During these weeks we also prepare for the feast of Christmas when we recall and celebrate the great historical event of the birth of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe is the Son of God. His birth is a special moment in time and the celebration of the event transcends the Christian community. All three readings in tomorrow’s liturgy offer the listener an extraordinary mission statement. The Old Testament prophet Baruch tells us “to put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever, wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you…” In his Letter to the Philippians St Paul praises his listeners for spreading the good news and assures them that this great goodness will be realised when the “the Day of Christ Jesus comes”. And then in the Gospel, Luke tells us about John the Baptist, quoting the prophet Isaiah: “A voice cries in the wilderness;/Prepare a way for the Lord,/make his path straight”. The voice crying in the wilderness is an often quoted expression about famous and not-so famous people, who spend years fighting wrong-doing. Eventually, either in their lifetime or in future generations, the rightness of their cause is recognised. We recall with honour names such as India’s Mahatma Gandhi, South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, San Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero, and the courage of the German Scholl siblings and the Bishop of Münster Graf von Galen who stood up to the tyranny of the Nazis when so many chose to look the other way. In one sense there is something almost fashionable these days about opposing the status quo. In a functioning democracy a person’s life is not at stake when it comes to attempting to undo wrongdoing by an organisation or a public authority. But the cost to anyone who stands up to Leviathans when they see something wrong being done must be enormous. Take a moment to think of the parents who stood up to the churches when their children were sexually, mentally and physically abused by priests and religious. What a toll that struggle must have had on their lives. Tomorrow’s readings assure us that God has matters under control, even when we are floundering. How can I be a bearer of hope? The world is full of despair and fear at present and yet in the midst of all that is happening, tomorrow’s readings offer us hope. It’s easy to look back in history and admire those who stood up against wrongdoing. It’s easy to romanticise their actions and indeed their suffering. But this world of ours can rid itself of wrongdoing and today we as Christians must always be on the alert to have the tenacity, wisdom and courage to highlight wrongdoing. Because it is only then that we can be true to the prophet Baruch and allow ourselves to wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around us. St Paul praises his listeners for spreading the Good News. He assures them that their work will bring about the Kingdom of God. There is a lovely oneness about tomorrow’s readings. They urge us to do what is right. They give us a sense of the results that are to be gained from doing what is right. But we also learn that the cost of living by the truth might be paid for at a price. There is also a reminder to us of the importance of empathy, of taking time to be with those who are cast aside, those who are forgotten and laughed at.

For many months the United Nations has been stressing the importance and necessity of vaccinating the developing world against Covid-19. Their argument is that we can only win the battle against the pandemic if we do it as a universal team. No one can be omitted or forgotten. It’s the universal story of justice for all. The feast of Christmas is about the most vulnerable of humans, an innocent, helpless child, who can do nothing for himself, someone who is at the mercy of the world. The Christian message is a powerful story. It’s a privilege and challenge to us to try to live it.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.