Daily Reflection
December 23rd, 2001
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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Preparing for Sunday anticipating this day.
The Fourth Sunday of Advent 
Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24

We are wonderfully surrounded by the signs and symbols of this great Christian Holy Day and secular holiday.  Christmas Trees are reminders of both the promise of the new and fruitful life which will come with the rebirth of the sun which has begun its journey back north as well as the Christian symbol of Christ’s birth bringing fruitful life to earth.  

There are symbols of light, stars, bells, wrapped-gifts, and Santa of course.  Symbols are realities in themselves which invite us to the beyond to which they point.  A candle is a wax and wick figure whose light can mean several things, but Christians see in it’s illumination, Christ’s being the “Light of the World.” 

In today’s First Reading, we hear Ahaz, the King, being asked by the Lord to ask for a sign.  He refuses, so Isaiah announces a prophecy that a sign will be given.  A sign is not exactly a symbol, but a notice, some information.  The news is that a young woman will have a son and his name will be a comfort to the king, because his name will mean that God is with him and his people. 

Here in the United States we have all kinds of symbols indicating what we believe, our history, and what we think of ourselves.  We have flags, an eagle, and we had two World Trade Towers.  They pointed to strength, stability, control, economic power, and to some, superiority and domination.

These latter became symbols which sent us and the world messages from the skies one bright September morning.  Their message was destruction, anger, vengeance, and revealing what “they” thought of us.  Two towers, at once symbols of might, became symbols of frailty.  Two towers built to be realities and yet symbols of the world’s advancement, became symbols of its regression.

In today’s Gospel, we hear of two other towers.  They are little, unknown, not outstanding, and who also receive messages from the skies.  Mary and Joseph were real and lived real lives and yet are also symbols for us who are called to believe and trust.

We watch two towers of faith whose lives were interrupted by fearful invasions.  Mary and Joseph both are frightened by the visits from heaven.  They were small in the eyes of the world and how they responded to their invitations allowed them to grow tall as two towers of faith.  They have become symbols of lives called to be trustingly out of control, but whose lives were given to bring life not destruction. The reality of their trust becomes the deeper reality of what the Inviter, the Invader thinks of us.  

We were shocked when our towers were so tragically destroyed and quite surprised at the ferocity of anger and hate shown to us by our attackers.  Little children echoed what we older folks were thinking, “Why do they hate us so much?”  “They” let us know what “they” thought of us and the symbols of our country.  God has also let us know what to think of ourselves by raising the little and insignificant to be the Gift which has come to shock and surprise us again.  

As humans, we make much of much.  God’s history with us is that God makes much of little.  Our nation has done some reflecting upon what the terrorists came to say.  These final days of Advent and these wonderful days of Christmas, our world does well to reflect upon what God is saying about us all.  With little children, and the little child within us all we can say as well,” Why does He love us so much!”

Two towers of trust stand tall in the skyline of human history and call to us all to listen to what God thinks of us.  They remain standing as symbols of encouragement to us who have received our own invitations and sometimes invasions.  They experienced their own littleness and out-of-controlness, but the God Who called them was faithful.  The God Who constantly calls us is Emmanuel; that is, “God is with us.”  God is still pregnant and constantly giving birth through those who refuse to be defeated by the terrorists of fear, doubt, and self-diminishment.  

“The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.”  Psalm 24


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