Signs: Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Advent
by Sister Dorene King
A cacophony of signs vie for our attention. This cacophony breeds confusion. Then confusion exacerbates our feelings and we begin our ascent toward the treacherous mountains of fear.
Disharmony, confusion and fear may dislocate us from recognizing signs of hope. We may discount those signs of hope as being unrealistic, too good to be true and impossible considering the circumstances.
King Ahaz had been grasping on the precipice of fear. He was overwhelmed by the imminent threat of an alliance which threatened to overthrow his kingdom. Yet, Ahaz refused to seek God’s intervention. King Ahaz preferred to embrace fear rather than rely on God.
Will trepidation guide us or will we rely on God? Like King Ahaz we can refuse to ask God for a sign of hope amidst these times of condemnation and confusion. It may be tempting to befriend fear and close ourselves off from any signs of hope. After all, how could God intervene and transform our hearts and the hearts of all people away from racism, sexism, rabid nationalism or any other walls which we erect?
God broke through the wall of fear that King Ahaz had erected. Through Isaiah, the prophet, God gave an incredible sign: “The young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”
Immanuel, a name which means God with us. This is certainly good news. Whether King Ahaz changed upon hearing the good news of God’s presence is open to our imagination.
Emmanuel, God with us. Joseph was in a predicament and the only sensible and kind way through it was to “dismiss Mary quietly.” It seemed the only option available to him. Fear of what would happen to Mary, unless he acted, limited Joseph from considering asking for God’s intervention. Again, God was not deterred from intervening and so God used a dream to instruct Joseph in the way to proceed.
Unexpected situations arise in our lives. It is natural to desire control and normalcy to reduce the unexpected stress. However, we often get so caught up in finding quick remedies that we fail to rely on God. Remembering that God is with us and that God desires us to ask for a sign of God’s presence will reduce our fear and anxiety.
Do not be afraid. We belong to Jesus Christ. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ. Through Christ we have hope amidst the tumultuous traumas of our time. God is with us. This is a sign for our time—a sign of hope.
Come, Emmanuel, come.