Mercy is Hope
November 28: First Sunday of Advent, Year C2
Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4 2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
The peace treaty of 1918 punished Germany brutally for starting World War I. Fifteen years later, the crushed and humiliated German people elected Adolf Hitler to save them. After World War II, an enlightened United States saw that a stable, productive Germany was necessary to rebuild Europe, so it adopted the Marshall Plan, which earned George Marshall a Nobel Peace Prize. We also rebuilt Japan. Today, Germany and Japan are our allies. Mercy trumps revenge.
When Jesus’ contemporaries heard “The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise, I made to the house of Israel and Judah,” they understood this to mean military victory and prosperity. We know now that it meant mercy: mercy given and revealed through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Mercy is the hope that Advent holds out to us: God’s mercy to humans, and humans’ mercy to one another. God fulfills his promise by giving and teaching mercy. Paul prays, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” Our well-being depends on showing mercy to every human being.
The gospel warns, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from...the anxieties of daily life.” Our preoccupation with making a good living can distract us from showing mercy to the poor and the spiritually unenlightened. Advent reminds us to refocus our hope in order to revitalize it.
Daily Practice: Trust only in having mercy.
Advent Prayer: To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.