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Reflection on the Second Sunday of Advent

Posted on December 10, 2023, by Eileen Custy SL

If I saw John the Baptist walking up the driveway today, I would very likely alert the campus to go on full lockdown. As I thought about him, I wondered if he would have drawn crowds of people in his day, had he appeared freshly bathed, in the attire of a contemporary businessman, with well-trimmed hair and beard and coming in from Jerusalem rather than the desert? I don’t think so – they were traditional people, looking for a prophet like Elijah. Personally, I would not be attracted to a man dressed in camel’s hair and offering me locust to munch on. But these people had a tradition of being curious about persons who stood out because of their extreme look or eccentric behavior. Look at Ezekiel, for example, lying on his side for 390 days, eating a scroll and bringing dry bones to life. Such behaviors or appearances seemed to catch their attention and entice them to listen.

John is there to “ready the way of the Lord,” to baptize with the waters of repentance to be prepared for the one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. His life in the desert prepared him for this moment. He is very conscious of his place in the plan. He is there to ready the way of one greater than himself and then step back.

The first reading for today is so appropriate for the times in which we are living. In Isaiah we heard, “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” The people of Ukraine and Gaza immediately come to mind. The parents in Israel and Russia who have lost sons and daughters in the fighting come to mind. Refugees, hostages, homeless and starving people, children who have never known peace, the sick and the dying, all come to mind. “Comfort, give comfort to my people.” To all of these suffering people Isaiah says, “Here is your God! who comes with power.” We might like God to come down with power and wipe out the power-hungry leaders who insist on bullying others into following them. A quick but powerful heart attack comes to mind. That is not God’s way (nor should it be mine) but it doesn’t mean that God is unaware or far away. God is right here in the midst of it all. Isaiah continues, “Like a shepherd God feeds the flock; in his arms God gathers the lambs, carrying them to his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.” How is that possible, and yet we believe that God is love and love will not abandon the beloved. 

To us, our current situation may seem hopeless. We watch the images on TV every night and think there is no end to this turmoil in our world. No place is safe from the anger, hatred, violence and prejudice that we see all around us. We worry about our own democracy – can it survive? And at times, we may even wonder “Where is God in all of this?” 

There is hope. It has been said that the Spirit of God is most active in the midst of chaos.  Chaos shakes us up so that we do not continue to think everything is good. It makes us think, re-evaluate what is important, and question our own behavior. It spurs us into action. Isn’t that the work of the Spirit? Isn’t that reason to hope?

We are always called to repentance, as John the Baptist insisted, but we also have been baptized in the Spirit. We are co-creators on this earth so what we do counts. We can be light in the darkness by living in the way Jesus has called us to live – to be a group of people who give example by the way we live in community, by demonstrating that it is possible to live and work together peacefully and to do good things together. We demonstrate the values of kindness, compassion, friendship and cooperation. Maybe our example will help those who suffer from the chaos that surrounds us, to see that it is possible to live in peace and harmony. At the same time, we continue our efforts to effect change in whatever way we can – phone calls, postcards, or just walking with suffering people, carrying them in our hearts and minds. Our God is with us. As co-creators we walk with God, trusting that all is not lost and that out of the chaos, we can create peace, pace by steady pace. We can help to “make ready the way of the Lord.”


Eileen Custy SL

Eileen Custy was born and raised on a dairy outside of Denver and attended a one-room schoolhouse for her first eight years. After a year of college at Loretto Heights, she joined the Sisters of Loretto. In spite of the fact that she thought at that time she never wanted to be a teacher, she loved the work and taught for 46 years. Most of those years were spent in El Paso, Texas. Eileen “retired” in 2004 and moved to Kentucky, where she served as an administrative assistant to the Motherhouse Coordinator for nearly 20 years before retiring in November 2023. Eileen continues to serve the Motherhouse Community, particularly pastorally.