“Towards the encounter” Advent
1st Sunday of Advent – Year C
Today begins this journey towards an encounter, towards the cave of Bethlehem. The Gospel of this Sunday speaks to us of catastrophic events, almost strange to find here, at the beginning of the Christmas period, made up of beautiful lights and nativity scenes.
When we talk about the “end of the world” we have a wrong concept: it is not the final catastrophe, but if we think about it, the world tends to end from the moment it was created. Because from the condition of perfection of creation, the world, corruptible, tends more and more to degrade because of evil, understood in its broadest forms. But even in evil, in the trial, in the cross, we must be good at seeking the light. Love. Eternal life.
This is perhaps how the Gospel that opens the Advent this year should be read. The same events can be seen in two ways: either to resign oneself to evil, or to welcome the weeds but to make the wheat grow. This is the invitation at this time, walking towards the cave.
It is therefore not a catastrophe, but the encounter with our Creator, the homecoming, our common home. For this reason, the signs of heaven should not frighten us, but hearten us. They are like weddings, sung in the last book of the Holy Scriptures, both for Jews with the Song of Songs, and for Christians with the book of Revelation. In both cases, the Scriptures close with a wedding story, a celebration.
This passage from Luke talks about the wedding. The encounter with God that takes place now is not in an indefinite future. Now I can live love, this is the “secunda death” of the Canticle of St. Francis. There is a counterpoint: on one hand everything is collapsing, like the planet we see collapsing now, anguish, and on the other hand, Christ who comes triumphant. The signs are the opposite of the creative act of the Logos, the chaos opposed to the cosmos. We are in the middle, suspended, in fear, without an escape, in precariousness.
Science, philosophy, politics, should help us to find a way out, to escape, but the heart of the drama is the inner chaos, the inner deserts, the pessimism, the certainty that there is no more way out, our fear. For fear we destroy the good, we destroy the planet, resigned.
The powers of heaven are upset, as on the cross, when our idea of God collapses, when we are disappointed and without certainties. When God lets himself be found in the cry of the poor, in the fragile, in the least, we are disappointed and do not understand him.
What will happen in all this darkness? Christ does not arrive “after these things”, but the text says “and then they will see …” the son of man. This expression, taken up by Daniel, the only definition of himself that Jesus gives himself, tells us that he will be seen by men at the height of his essence when he hangs from the cross. Inside evil, above the cross, it is precisely there that we can contemplate God who holds up all evil, forgiving everyone. God is not as we imagine him in apocalyptic scenarios, as the judge who condemns, but the one who forgives sins, the Lord of the Sabbath, the one who eats and drinks with sinners, the one who will have to suffer at the hands of men, who gives up in the hands of sinners.
What is the glory? Precisely on the cross God reveals himself as father and mother, he reveals himself as the one who welcomes, who generates life, whom he loves. He comes on a cloud reminding us of the exodus, the cloud from which the light came out to freedom, the cloud of the Transfiguration. We must be good at finding this cloud now, in this world, not in an ideal future world, in a future paradise outside of this reality.
How much light, in these first steps of Advent! We are called to look up, to live as free men, without fear, to watch over this fragile planet that suffers injustices, to be careful, not to lose the face of God, this wonderful spectacle! Asking God to free us from evil:
“Let us all, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross. The sheep of the Lord followed Him in tribulation and persecution and shame, in hunger and thirst, in infirmity and temptations and in all other ways; 1 and for these things they have received everlasting life from the Lord. Wherefore it is a great shame for us, the servants of God, that, whereas the Saints have practised works, we should expect to receive honor and glory for reading and preaching the same.” (FF 155)
Only in this way can we change the world, from the inside, finally living a true conversion. Good path towards this meeting!