This Advent, let’s not settle for a sentimental Christmas season, but actively work to open ourselves up to Jesus’ refiner’s fire and launderer’s soap to burn and to scrub abuse and mistreatment from our lives and our societies.
Jesus did not come neatly at the beginning of human history. Nor does he only come at the end. He came to proclaim that “God IS with us” right where we are, right in the midst of all the difficulties, uncertainty, danger, intrigue and woe. Advent is not supposed to be a time of joy, but a time of introspection and purposeful waiting and preparing for the coming of the one who will lead us in justice and righteousness.
Jesus’ Kingdom is not from this world (John 18:36) but at the same time, it is already present (Matt 3:2, 4:17). We must keep these two truths in front of us, both this week, and always.
The semi-continuous lectionary continues with the message about how the Kingdom of God continually overthrows the strong, mighty and impressive in favor of the weak, downcast and embarrassing. Hannah’s song and Jesus’ brief reflection on the temple’s impermanence show that earthly greatness counts for very little in God’s sight.
Not only do loud, showy bragging and demands for respect not impress God, but these words and actions lead directly to great condemnation (Mark 12:40). If one is rich, the right path is to emulate Boaz, who associated with the lowly, gave up the right to live in a bubble of wealth, and welcomed the poor, Israelite and foreigner alike. He celebrated when others made claims of his responsibility to provide for them.
If we lack the ability to do what Jesus told us to do, we need only pray for strength and guidance. God will surely bless our desire to be obedient in love.
The bottom line is that when someone calls other people unclean, dirty or disgusting, they are working counter to the program of Jesus