Sunday, December 3, 2023
Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7 | 1 Cor 1:3-9 | Mk 13:33-37
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down
The text of the prophet Isaiah that we read on this first Sunday of Advent comes from the third part of the book of the prophet. This section is written since the return from exile and the restoration of Israel. This was a challenging period for the people since, upon their return, they were not entirely welcomed by those who stayed, and it was not easy for them to reestablish themselves. Here, the “messianic hope” is born, with the dream of a land where everyone can live, a universal peaceful coexistence between all creatures.
In the paragraph read today, we could interpret that the people have not been faithful, which is why God punished them with Exile and the difficulties they now encounter. The prophet tries to bring comfort and hope to a God who never abandons. To understand the urgency and importance of that consoling message, we must remember the history of this town.
The people of God have migrated to Egypt in time of famine. There, they prospered and grew, but simultaneously, they were enslaved. God sent Moses to free them, and they began migrating toward the promised land again. While in their land, after fighting to recover it, they were constantly invaded by different peoples and even experienced exile and the destruction of their temple. The Persian king allowed them to return to their land, and they set out again.
When they arrived, they were discriminated against, and it became challenging to establish their roots and reconstruct the city and themselves as a people. Throughout history, and even today, the experience of conquering the land, or suffering its usurpation, continues to be a drama for this region.
Today, we see many migration processes worldwide, for various reasons. Some must leave their land for economic reasons; others must leave as refugees due to violence, wars, or persecution. Many others, increasingly, must migrate for ecological reasons – climate change – or because they live in areas damaged by extractive industries.
People who migrate today have the same experiences as the people of the Bible, whom Isaiah tries to encourage while he nourishes messianic hope. Therefore, when we hear Jesus inviting us to be alert and attentive, we cannot help but wonder what we should pay attention to today.
Indeed, we are invited to discern the causes that instigate the experience of migration. Humanity must ask itself what changes we should make to build a peaceful coexistence with all human beings and with creation.
Finally, we are invited, as missioners, to bring the same message of hope that the prophet, with his preaching, and Jesus, with his actions, brought to us.
Maryknoll Father Alejandro Marina, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is coordinator of the Overseas Training Program in Bolivia, where he serves in various ministries that include a farmers market to promote local businesses and education programs that promote sustainable practices.
The 2023 Advent Reflection Guide from the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns contains questions and excerpts from missioners around the world.
Featured image: Camels at rest in Negev, Israel. (James Ballard/Unsplash)
Questions for Reflection
In what ways is God inviting you to be alert and attentive to the world around you?
What gives you hope for peaceful coexistence with all people and creation today?
O God, open our eyes so that we may see the
needs of others; Open our ears that we may
hear their cries; Open our hearts that we may
feel their anguish and their joy. Let us not be
afraid to defend the oppressed, the poor, the
powerless, because of the anger and might of
the powerful. Show us where love and hope and
faith are needed, and use us to bring them to
those places. Open our ears and eyes, our hearts
and lives, that we may in these coming days be
able to do some work of justice and peace for you.
– The Sabeel Center, Jerusalem