Advent Themes, Year C

  • week 1: In a barren season, Jeremiah's promising image of "a righteous Branch" that springs up (also in Isaiah 11:1 of a shoot coming from the stump) is as striking in the natural world for us as the old meaning of a kingdom.  The words of Jesus from Luke reverse the gaze of this imagery, emphasizing that the natural signs of skies and seas and plants tell us something about God.
  • week 2: Ecologically, it is note-worthy that John the Baptist preaches from the wilderness.  The song of his birth (the Psalmody for the day) speaks of a God of our past who faithfully remains to bring salvation.  John's message of repentance is for us who need the light to "dawn" on us (Luke 1:78) so that our "love may overflow more and more with knowledge and insight" (Philippians 1:9).  Where are we stuck in darkness, needing more knowledge and love for  wilderness?
  • week 3: Isaiah 12 proclaims the joy of clean (and available) waters, and that "all the earth" joins in this praise.  Perhaps expanding our awareness of creation's bounty around us helps us to join in the call of Philippians 4:4 to "rejoice in the Lord always."  Imagery of deforestation and wildfires may be useful for John the Baptist's words on axes cutting down trees, and of fires that consume the landscape.
  • week 4: In the final frenzy of Christmas shopping and baking, how do we encounter Mary's words that "he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:53)?  How do images of giving birth, of mothers and tender care, counteract dominant cultural themes?

St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness, by Geertgen tot Sint