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Reflection on the Second Sunday of Advent

Posted on December 4, 2022, by Sharon Kassing SL

“Brothers and sisters, whatever was written before was written for our instruction that we might have hope!” That’s what Paul says today. 

Then he says, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another . . . that with one accord you may glorify God.” By imploring the God of endurance, Paul acknowledges that the path to hope will be a slog, a struggle, but the reward will be harmony, and harmony glorifies God. Hope leads to harmony, which contributes to the reign of God.

Three or four years ago, my sister gave me this little wooden-framed container that had three fake plants in it. They were dark green, flat, multi-leafed, thick stemmed and rubbery looking. Not being fond of fake plants, I struggled against the impulse to just pitch them, but because they were a gift after all, I put them on my kitchen windowsill, next to my real plant. One day, after watering my real plant, without thinking, I dumped the remaining water on the fake plants — or so I thought. The next morning as I stood looking out the window, I was surprised to see that the fake plants had awakened and now stood about an inch and a half above the container. What could I do but continue to treat them as real plants, right? So, I did. Now they are about five inches high, and from their centers, they have twice sent out gangly shoots that are 18 inches tall with clusters of feathery pink blossoms on the end. Who knows how long these plants sat on the store’s shelf before my sister bought them. I wonder how long they waited for that water. That speaks “endurance” to me.

We know from modern science that plants can communicate, that they are strong enough to break rocks and tenacious enough to grow, rooted in the smallest amount of substrate on the vertical face of a mountain. We also know that they can endure fire and drought and still bloom again. Plants could be our mentors when it comes to modeling endurance.

The word “endurance” comes from the Old English and can mean “the ability to last,” implying a length of time or distance. When I was a kid, I had to endure Advent, but not in the way St. Paul seems to suggest. As an adult, I have experienced Advent as a time of expectation and hope, a season of the senses and the imagination. It’s a time when there’s more darkness than light, and I always feel a little chilly in the house, even though I have the security of being able to bundle up. It’s a time for tea and homemade soups and stews and the fragrances they bring to the house. It’s a time of heartening memories of past seasons, special people, and the anticipation of friends or family members coming home. These are all pleasant enough things, and the temptation might be to just hunker down and wait things out, confusing waiting for hope.

But remember, there’s that “harmony” thing that Paul referred to, that “harmony” that springs from hope, that the God of endurance will grant to us. It will need to be a hope that carries us through because that “ability to last” will not end with Christmas! 

The harmony that real hope brings will not be achieved, as Isaiah says, until justice is the band around our waists, so much a part of our being that it will be like our very skin. Justice will be the hallmark of God’s reign. We know we’re not there yet, right? In fact, we might feel we’re further away from it than we’ve ever been. 

How can we cultivate and support our ability to last till justice is a reality? I heard a possible answer in my small group at the Friday night LLink meeting. One of our participants said she often asks herself, “What am I drawn to that is good?” She continued, saying the answer to that is not enough until she satisfies the need to give service to that good. Another person said that what gives her energy is when we share the things we do and the ways we serve. So, how do we nurture our ability to last? As Jean East says, “We hold sacred space when we’re together.” And as St. Paul says, “Welcome one another!”  And the psalmist and I say, get together, welcome everyone, share your energy to serve, and harmonize, so that “justice shall flourish in our days and profound peace till the moon be no more.”


Sharon Kassing SL

In addition to being part of Loretto's Executive Committee/Community Forum, Sharon also serves on Loretto's Discernment Steering Committee, the Motherhouse Coordinating Board and the Farm & Land Committee. She also oversees Loretto's Assembly planning. A native St. Louisan, Sharon says she finds this "a very exciting time to be in a religious community, especially the Loretto Community, because I see us at the very edge of what is to come. I am confident that we, as a Community, have the courage and strength to be a part of a future that has yet to show itself completely."