Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
In the movie, Lincoln, what struck me the most was the internal struggle that Abraham Lincoln faced when he was discerning how to proceed with the Civil War. There was certainly a pull towards ending the war with the South, what would seem like an immediate fix to the problem; or does he continue to fight for the passage of the 13th Amendment, knowing full-well the challenge of doing that. But he believed deep down, despite the opposition, that going for the greater good was what needed to be done in order for the war to truly end. Of course, it would take more than another hundred years before civil rights would come to a head, but regardless, the greater good, fighting for the 13th Amendment and that freedom from slavery was the choice that needed to be made, regardless of how painful, internally, it was for him.
Certainly not to the same degree, but we often find ourselves living with that same struggle and so much of our lives are surrounded by “immediate fixes” to our problems, especially this time of year. Most of this season seems to be about the immediate, the perfect gift, tree, cards, and all the rest that we get ourselves sucked into, that we often lose sight of the greater good that is going on and what we are being called to in our lives.
We aren’t much different from the people of salvation history. Certainly the Israelites were always looking for quick fixes to things. They find themselves once again preparing for battle in the first reading, and as we will hear throughout this season of Advent from the prophets, will be a message of hope and a reminder of the larger story that they are connected to and how God has seen them through when they can find it within themselves to persevere and to be people of prayer. So often we are all ready to run from the tension that exists, even during this season, and try to rid ourselves of it, when in reality, if we can live with the tension and stay with it, like Abraham Lincoln does, we can be afforded the same gift that he fights for, the gift of freedom and the gift of a new birth brought forth by God, the Incarnate Son who becomes a reality in our lives and world.
Jesus, too, could have come up with a quick fix to his situation…change the message, walk away, even though the cross was the destiny; darkness loomed for all of them, but again, staying with the tension of the Cross, Jesus is pushed through to new life and birth comes to light. It may feel a lot like he tells us in the Gospel, which is why we want to look for the immediates in life: roaring of seas, fright, anxiety, and all the rest; but again, stay with the tension and uneasiness, and life will abound.
There is no doubt that much is being prepared for Christmas, and that’s ok; and most likely we will all get sucked into the hustle and bustle and become overwhelmed. If we can stay with it, rather than give into the quick fixes and immediate gratifications that society leads us to this season, we will arrive at Christmas with a new understanding of the season, birth will happen, as painful as it is, and we will be given a taste of the greater good and freedom which can only come through prayer and perseverance with Christ into the new life that he calls forth.