Advent 2017

<em>Archangel Gabriel strikes Zechariah dumb - Alexander Andrejewitsch Iwanow</em>
Archangel Gabriel strikes Zechariah dumb - Alexander Andrejewitsch Iwanow

To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist

Advent – a time of expectation

At a doctrinal level we know that Advent is a reminder of the Incarnation, but at an existential level can we still expect something new?

It is a question that dwells in our hearts and often pops up in the various difficulties of daily life. We are so oppressed by the various demands of life that what we’re missing is the hope that something can still change. We are a little bit like the Jewish people enslaved in Egypt, who no longer believed in the existence of a promised land; yet it existed and was destined for them. Or, taking inspiration from the events of John the Baptist, we resemble Zechariah who no longer expected that his prayers for his wife to conceive would be answered.

It is into this context that something happens which no one could ever have imagined: an angel appears and proclaims the forthcoming birth of a son, John, who will become the Baptist. The same thing happens in the desert when God appears to Moses; it is such an unexpected event, not even remotely sought after or foreseen. In both cases God reveals himself with a proclamation. In the first instance, God invites Moses to go to the enslaved people to proclaim their forthcoming deliverance (see Ex 3:16), and in the second instance, an angel tells Zechariah that his prayer has been answered (see Lk 1:13). But neither of them believed this proclamation; they were incapable of believing anything of this nature because they were not able to learn a new language, the language of proclamation. Zechariah would remain mute, and Moses would have to lean on Aaron.

We have to learn how to use a grammar composed of faith and not of factual circumstances. Our real difficulty lies in how to use a language that is sometimes openly opposed to the reality; we need to learn how to use a language of hope.

Let us imagine Moses who goes to his enslaved people and proclaims their forthcoming deliverance, or Zechariah who has to say, to himself first and foremost, that his wife will conceive. Is this just meaningless talk or is it faith talk? Unfortunately, we are often mute because we are incapable of speaking words of prophecy. In order to open ourselves to the new things of God, we need to learn to speak prophetically.

Zechariah learns this lesson and writes a new name for his son on a tablet: John, which means “God is grace, God has fulfilled, God has used mercy.” From that moment Zechariah regains his speech and prophesies.

Dear brothers and sisters, we either open ourselves to the new things of God or we close ourselves before the tyranny of time which passes without surprises. God wants us to free ourselves from this slavery and to open ourselves to an attitude of expectation. Then it doesn’t matter whether or not I get what I expected, what matters most is that the expectation renders us ever young, as agile as eagles that soar. “Advent” entails assuming an attitude of: “I believe and I will wait, because I hope for the fulfillment of the promises.” Learn how to be born again prophetically! This is the challenge for us and for our community.

John the Baptist is the man of proclamation, the man of the future, of the penetrating gaze, because he is farsighted and doesn’t get discouraged for today. This is why we’re not mute! To be honest, it is not the mere fulfilment of our prayers that interests us, but the strength that is born from the expectation of their fulfilment. This is why we courageously start to proclaim the promises again, reinvigorating our hope and encouraging one another, confirming each other in unity, seeking communion and not staying away from our community meetings.

Daily proclamation, constant encouragement and perseverance in participating in community meetings: these are our three commitments for this Advent.

Plzeň-Valcha, 24th November, 2017

Fr. Alvaro Grammatica
Pastor General