It hardly needs to be said that our world is broken. During Advent, during this time of what should be tranquility, preparation, prayer, and grace, I see so much anger, strife, violence, and fear. Terrorist attacks, refugee crises, mass shootings, intolerance of immigrants, and other troubling events have made it difficult to see the good in the world. Advent is supposed to be a time of preparation for Christ, but all I see is a world in pain.
Yet it is a world in pain that is most in need of Christ. The light of Christ’s coming breaks through the darkness, illuminating a suffering world. This light is love. When the world appears full of hatred, we are called to respond in love, not in anger or violence in word or action. The light of Christ allows us to see more clearly and respond in right action to heal our broken world.
Who better than the Holy Family to take as an example of the challenge to heal a broken world? The Holy Family experienced deep injustice. Mary was an unwed mother, undoubtedly facing rejection. Joseph was a poor carpenter, working long hours to prepare for his new family. Jesus was born into a land imprisoned by the Roman Empire and into a people who were suffering.
When Jesus was born, Mary “wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). The greatest of kings was born in the simplest of places. Jesus’ humble birth challenges expectations of a royal Messiah. God’s choice to become incarnate under these modest circumstances calls us to work for justice for people in our world today who live in injustice.
After Jesus was born, “the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him’” (Matthew 2:13). The Holy Family were persecuted refugees. Like many refugees around the world today, particularly from Syria, the Holy Family fled their home country for fear of death if they were to remain. Many people seem to have forgotten this example from our faith of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph being forced to flee their homeland. The Holy Family knew well the sorrow of making a perilous journey to an unfamiliar land in search of a safer life. Mercy has been replaced by xenophobia, but the Holy Family continues to challenge the faithful to justice.
When I see a pregnant teen marginalized by society, I see Mary. When I see a parent working long hours only to barely scrape out a living for their family, I see Joseph. When I see a child born into the cycle of poverty, I see Jesus. When I see a family who has walked thousands of miles to find a life free of violence, I see the Holy Family.
Our broken world cries out for justice. As we await the coming of the Lord, I pray that we answer those cries and allow the light of Christ to illuminate our lives.
The days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will fulfill the promise
I made to the house of Israel and Judah.
In those days, in that time,
I will raise up for David a just shoot;
he shall do what is right and just in the land.
In those days Judah shall be safe
and Jerusalem shall dwell secure;
this is what they shall call her:
“The Lord our justice.”