Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

'One World at a Time': Readings for the First Sunday in Advent, Nov. 27: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b:64:2-7; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

'One World at a Time': Readings for the First Sunday in Advent, Nov. 27: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b:64:2-7; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Article excerpt

Come on, God. Can't you do better at saving us from ourselves? Stop hardening our hearts and letting us wander from your ways. Come down and really blow us away with something big--mountains quaking, heavens rending, something like that. We need to see you've wrought something awesome. Rouse yourself, for heaven's sake, and come.

OK, we've established God's responsibility for a certain lack of saving acts, and in doing so let's hope we've created enough distance from ourselves to allow us to be honest. In that light, I offer the following question: Why do we have such a difficult time being saved?

Admittedly there is plenty to be saved from: famine, war, pestilence, a destroyed economy, those seven deadly sins, climate change, and an infinite number of enemies. And yet, in today's first reading, Isaiah seems to be suggesting, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Being saved from ourselves may be the most difficult task of all. For one thing, we keep on blaming ourselves on everyone else.

He made me lie to get that raise. She made me hate immigrants. The system made me turn a blind eye to the suffering it creates. He made me go to war even though I knew the reasons didn't add up. I was ordered to torture. They made me risk financial disaster for their profit. Perhaps they did. But what made me so ready to go along? What made me so open to their rationales? Their promises? Had "they" wrought something awesome? Or was I bought out by something embarrassingly small and trivial?

And if I was, why do I demand so much more proof from God than from "them"? God who, when I think about it, has already given us the revelation of Jesus Christ and all that it encompasses? Perhaps this is too direct a question. Let's look elsewhere. How about the future? Lots of folks these days urge us to look to the end times, preachers, politicians and policymakers among them. …

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