S+L logo

Light, joy and hope in the midst of our Advent deserts

December 19, 2007
Gaudete Sunday’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah [35:1-10] highlights the paradox of Advent. The prophet captured the paradox of barrenness and rejoicing as no other poet has. Scanning the southern Negev desert's gnarled surface he saw a vision of God's new creation. Listen to some of Isaiah’s lyrical desires and hopes:
"The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing…
They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God... Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water...
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away".
In this magnificent piece of biblical poetry, the prophet Isaiah announces the end of the Babylonian captivity. Delivered and saved by God, all peoples shall return to their own land by way of the desert, in a new exodus. The road, the desert, water, and joy are more than mere coincidence. Isaiah prophecies that there shall be one, pure road, and it will be called the way of holiness upon which the redeemed shall walk. In the midst of the desert streams will break forth. Imagine the incredible scene... a highway of abundance and joy in such desolate and hopeless places!
The ways of the desert were deep within the heart of Israel and of Jesus, and it must be the same for all of us who form the new Israel of God– the Church. The way of Israel in the desert is also the way for all of us! We meet God in the midst of our deserts of sinfulness, selfishness, despair, isolation, and cynicism. And in the midst of the desert we hear what God will do if we open our hearts to him and allow God to make our own deserts bloom.
How do we survive in the midst of our own deserts? How have we resisted transforming our own barren areas into places of abundant life? How have we hidden behind the dividing walls that separate us from one another? How often have we wandered from the way of peace into our own selfishness, unkindness and despair? How many times have we allowed ourselves to be bombarded with images and voices of darkness, doom and hopelessness, failing to see the goodness, beauty, truth and hope that are at the core of the Christian message and the Catholic life?
These are the serious questions we must ask ourselves as we long and hope for the birth of the Messiah this year.
Advent is about welcoming the Light and allowing its brightness and the flavour of the Gospel to shatter our darkness, despair and doubt. Through the Salt and Light Television network, the Church in Canada has received a marvelous gift that now extends across the country through Canada’s first national Catholic cable network, now available from coast to coast. Salt and Light Television communicates the Good News of Christ through the positive work that the Church does in His name and through the media.
As we continue longing and waiting for Christ, let us not lose hope along the way. May the example of John the Baptist give us the strength and courage necessary to transform our deserts into gardens, and our emptiness into rich Catholic meaning and experience. During this third week of Advent rejoicing, allow God to make your own desert spaces bloom as you experience the joy of Salt and Light Television.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.,
C.E.O., Salt and Light Catholic Television Network

Related posts

Deacon-structing the Mass | Part 2: The Entrance
Last week we learned that it is our right to fully, actively, and consciously participate in the Mass. How can we do that if we don’t know what everything means? Over the next couple of weeks I hope ...read more
Encore SLHour: Perfectly Human and other great conversations
This week, on a special edition of the SLHour, Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky tells us about working with persons with disabilities, and we learn all about the new Family Theater Productions series Catholic Cen ...read more
Why does a Toronto church have a heart in its wall? Read about this and other great stories from this week's news on Noel Ocol's Weekly News Round-Up. ...read more
"We all are in this boat together" : A Reflection on the Current Crisis in the Church
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., reflects on the current crisis in the Church, the Vatican's response, and how we can learn from this in the future. ...read more
Read all about the famous shrine at Knock, Ireland, which Pope Francis will visit on Sunday, August 26th, during his trip to the World Meeting of Families. ...read more
For Cindy Wooden, a distinguished Vatican journalist, Pope Francis is a dream and a nightmare. Watch this #TFImoment to find out why! ...read more
Health Food for the Soul
"You are what you eat." Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, reflects on the meaning of Jesus' command to eat his flesh and drink his blood. ...read more
President of U.S. Bishops’ Conference Announces Effort That Will Involve Laity, Experts, and the Vatican as U.S. Bishops Resolve to Address “Moral Catastrophe”
Read the full text of a statement from the president of the USCCB regarding the current "moral catastrophe" in the Catholic Church. ...read more
Vatican responds to Pennsylvania Grand Jury abuse report
On Thursday evening, the Director of the Holy See Press Office issued the following statement regarding the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury. ...read more