Turmoil, Fear, and Dismay

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December 2, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

December 2, 2018
Luke 3:1-6
Fr. George Smiga

Turmoil, fear, dismay. These are words we could use to describe the scene that Luke presents before us in today’s gospel. They are also words we could use to describe our world, because, like every period before it, the age in which we live is marked by many things that are wrong. Internationally democracies seem to be eroding from within as people elect leaders who promise stability no matter what the cost. Countries debate one another on how to handle the issues of global warming and the mass migration of immigrants pressing on their borders. In our own country, we have never been more politically polarized, and legislation seems to depend more on party interest than on the common good.

Turmoil, fear, and dismay, all around. This is why the image that Luke presents to us in today’s gospel is so important. After describing the dismal scene, he says, “Then they will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory.” Luke is telling us that Christ comes to us in midst of the turmoil and the fear. Luke is saying that Jesus arrives, not once the mess is cleaned up, but even as the causes of our despair hold sway. This is a tremendously important image for us to hold on to: Christ in glory in the midst of our dismay. It is an important image, because all too often we limit the presence of Christ to situations that are harmonious and peaceful. When everyone in our family is healthy, when our job is secure, when all is going well at school, when our country seems to be moving in the right direction, we easily say, “Look God is blessing us.” But, when things become unhinged, when we start to fear the future, we say, “Where is God? Why has Christ abandoned us?”

Today’s gospel invites us to look again, to believe that Christ can be present in every situation, no matter how painful. He is there as we sit in silence with only the beep of medical instruments in the Intensive Care Unit. He is there as we pick up the pieces of our life after a painful divorce. He is there as we wake up again to emptiness because of someone we lost in death.

How can Christ be present in the midst of so much loss and sorrow? There is a mystery to it for sure, because Christ does not come to condone what is wrong or to dismiss what is unjust. But he does come. I have seen it happen. I have seen him come, as a family gathered around the death bed of their mother is suddenly overcome with a love that demonstrates what they mean to each other. I have seen him come to a young married couple, who after months of marriage counseling look at one another and say, “You know, we might make it.” I have seen him come when someone is belittled or their rights violated and another person stands up and says, “This has to stop.”

So, if you find yourself in turmoil, fear, or dismay, do not conclude that Christ has forgotten you. Christ is standing at your side in glory. His presence is mysterious for sure, and often difficult to discern, but he is there. Look for him!

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