Faith’s Dare Advent
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
First Sunday in Advent
Between the visions of a prophet and the assumptions of a politician exists a chasm few manage to bridge. “What can people do,” the prophet asks? “What will people do,” asks the politician?
“God works in people,” says the prophet, “He frees us from our fears. We can meet our potential. We can become the people God intends.”
“People are people,” responds the politician; “we look for security and prosperity.
Life is short and dicey; we do what we think will succeed. Beliefs and promises about God are fine but life has to work – we have to live.”
The prophet and the politician: they struggled within our faith before it was Christian. The Hebrew Scriptures are full of the tension (Isaiah 7:1-18). Jesus’ and Peter’s relationship revealed the stress (Mk 8:33) that beset the first generations of the Church.
Scholars refer to the strain in the gospels between the already and the not yet in their treatments of the Kingdom of God. On the one hand Jesus proclaimed the reality of God’s promised new world was present in his own life (Lk 4:18-21). On the other hand, the gospels foretold persecution (Mk 13:11) and encouraged virtues necessary to endure the inevitable privations of living a life of loving-justice in a world not yet embracing God’s vision (Mt 5, 6 & 7).
This same tension has always plagued the Church and will continue to dog it until God’s peace fills our hearts and lands. Praying beside us are people who, by personality and experience are politicians as well as people who are prophets. And each of us has our own political and prophetic side. If we look closely and honestly at ourselves we can observe them hammering out awkward truces time and time again. It’s a situation we can neither accept nor escape.
What we can do is acknowledge it honestly and humbly, not shirk the pain that it engenders in us and never, never cease asking ourselves if we’re being as true to the vision of Jesus as we possibly can.