My reference point for this reflection is the second reading given for the First Sunday of Advent –
St Paul’s letter to the Romans:13,11-14. Here we visualise how Paul the apostle addresses his followers, animating them to live a true Christian life in their own personal lives and in their attitudes to all of their brothers and sisters.
Paul exhorts them “to put on Christ” and that is the Advent invitation for all of us.
This reading invites us to reflect on our lived experience in today’s world. We hear the many voices of our world crying out and calling us to live a true following of Jesus, with passion and urgency. The only true response is to become “clothed with Christ”.
In being “clothed with Christ Jesus” we are being called to accompany the cries of all people as they struggle for their daily bread, their dignity, the common good, justice and peace. Paul, the apostle of Christ, reminds us that “it is full time now to wake from sleep, time to discard everything that belongs to darkness and put on the armour of light”.
The challenge for us as Christians is to confront the evil that surrounds us – the evil so destructive to all life. Let us take a few examples of the evil that confronts us today: the trafficking of women, the treatment of migrants and refugees who leave their homeland, risking everything in search of a land of milk and honey; the promised land. In “putting on Christ” we are also called to struggle against the evil of the violence inflicted on women, on the earth our home and all vulnerable beings.
Our obligation from our calling as Christians and our own convictions in relation to this call, is to denounce to the four winds the evil that surrounds us, and to rid ourselves of the attitude – “don’t get involved.”
We are called to animate each other “to clothe ourselves with Christ Jesus”, and by this means hold on to the hope that inhabits our very being. The Argentine singer and song writer Teresa Parodi gives signs and hints of human hope in one of her songs:
“ I sing because I have hopes that escape me, small and free and loving.
If the people give me their signs of life, I sing
I give signs of life like those of being born
I give signs of life while I wait.
May the people give me their signs, their blessed signs of life”.
It is hope that sustains us in every moment of our existence and it is divine hope we call upon to sustain us in life’s struggles.
Today, the Church, as a prophetic, practical and effective sign, must be able to do as Pope Francis does in his encyclical, exhortations, homilies and gestures of reconciliation:
being hope and offering gestures of hope; of joy, justice and peace; of goodness and dignity in this our world – our home, the home of all.
The beginning of this Advent time calls us to look at where we are; to journey onwards opening up pathways of light and hope, because “the hour of salvation is near.” It is coming and it is close, It is before us, and we are invited this Advent of 2016 to “clothe ourselves with Christ Jesus”, nothing more, nothing less.
Sr. Ana Chavez O.P. Argentina