Christmas is upon us! Although it may be hard to believe in the midst of the last minute gift buying, house cleaning, and other holiday preparations, another season of Advent is nearing its completion. It is at this time in particular that many of us begin to worry and say, “But wait… there’s more preparing to do! I need more time!”
Fortunately, it’s never too late to prepare for the coming of Christ.
On the fourth Sunday of Advent, I was reminded once again of the remarkable willingness of Mary and Joseph to be open to God’s plan from start to finish. They did this in the midst of all kinds of immense uncertainty, listening faithfully to God’s counsel as they awaited a miracle of miracles. In a beautiful complement, the responsorial psalm for the day emphasized that the earth and everything on it, ultimately belong to God.
Many of us who lament the suffering of God’s creatures are also constantly awaiting a miracle. But we are all too aware that it likely won’t happen overnight. So what to do in the midst of uncertainty?
Know Our Calling Through our baptism, we as Christians are called to be prophets on earth, sharing the message of Christ to all we encounter. And within this profound responsibility, we are each individually called to respond in a way that God has chosen for us. Many of us feel a special call to care for God’s animals. But staying the course is no easy task. As advocates for the voiceless know, it is often a very bumpy road, one on which we should prepare for twists, turns, and jolts along the way. There may be frustration and isolation at times. Yet, we can look to Mary and Joseph as role models for patience, flexibility and perseverance when the going gets tough. And it is possible to be joyful as we wait for what is possible.
Pray If we are to strive to be Christlike in our daily lives, it follows that we must also strive to be closer to God. No matter how hard we may try, we cannot do the tremendous and difficult task of peacemaking alone. As advocates, we act with noble intentions, but become disillusioned when the results don’t turn out as we hoped. Fortunately, the benefits of prayer aren’t restricted to one species. As we await the coming of Christ, we may pray for the strength and wisdom required to be the best image bearers we can to one another and to the entirety of creation. In addition to asking what what we, specifically, are being called to do to strive for a peaceable kingdom for all, we may ask how we are to do this-- in our lifetimes, in the coming year, and even today. Moreover, we can pray for resilience when things go wayward. Prayer allows us to more clearly see and act out the fruits of our baptism. And those fruits benefit all God’s creatures.
Reflect and Act Speaking of furthering the kingdom, we are reminded just how astounding it is in Isaiah. It is so incredible that it is often referred to as the most powerful prophecy. Prey and predators lie down next to one another. There are no enemies. Not one individual harms. In today’s world that’s almost unfathomable to imagine! But we are reminded that it’s possible.
Exercising compassion for the voiceless is a powerful way to start enacting a peaceable kingdom on earth. The more we remember our call to holiness while doing so, the closer we come. This Advent and beyond, may we continue to challenge ourselves to sow peace and justice wherever we go, promoting unity over division as we do so. May we challenge ourselves to act in the spirit of patience, wisdom and forgiveness. Let us remember that as all creation waits for Christ, the animals in creation are, too, waiting for and depending upon us.