Advent Reflection

Week four of Advent 2021

The Advent Dream

In 1948, Alan Paton, a white South African, wrote a haunting book called Cry the Beloved Country which described the situation in South Africa under apartheid. In a truly prophetic book, he spoke of his dream that there would come a day when there was justice and equality for all.

On August 28, 1963, Dr Martin Luther King Jr delivered a memorable address in Washington DC. The speech was occasioned by the movement for civil rights for African Americans and captured the need for change in American society.

The theme of his words was “I have a dream,” and he outlined his hopes for the future integration of all people in the United States of America. On October 3, 2020, Pope Francis travelled to Assisi where he celebrated Mass and signed the encyclical letter Fratelli tutti in which he writes about his dream for human solidarity among all peoples.

Dreams are important and in different decades these three authors have challenged us to focus on the reality of the human community where difference and division have all too often triumphed over the recognition of our common humanity, and the need to work together for the creation of a better society in which all have an equal share.

In the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha based on the seventeenth century book by Miguel De Cervantes there is a wonderful song called “The Impossible Dream,” in which the mad knight Don Quixote sings of his quest to “To fight for the right without question or pause, to be willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause!”

The dreams of all come together as we enter the season of Advent after recent challenges with drought, bushfires, and the global pandemic. The dreams echo the message of Jesus who came among us to proclaim and inaugurate the “kingdom of God.” This kingdom is not simply about the future but about the need to transform current reality. It is not about pie in the sky, but about the transformation of contemporary reality.

The season of Advent, which concludes with the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ, we pause anew to dream of the reality that God is among us and the difference that Jesus makes to our lives.

Jesus calls us to dream and to work to create a world where there is greater equality and a deeper respect for the created world and cosmos which we inhabit. Our media has made us more aware of others and through travel we have been able to acquaint ourselves with the reality of other societies.

Our experiences of these global realities invite us to recognise difference and to work for the development of others. The negative option is to retreat into our own cocoons and to seek to protect ourselves and our way of life to the neglect of wider concerns.

Our experience of the pandemic has challenged us to think not only of our own national needs but also to work together to provide an international response based not just on national interests but on concern for the common good of all people. This is particularly important for the wealthy and powerful nations who must also be concerned for those who have less resources.

Michael A Kelly CSsR

© Majellan Media 2021