Pope Francis says, “in our mission we become a Church ‘that does not stand aloof from life, but immerses herself in today’s problems and needs, bandaging wounds and healing broken hearts with the balm of God.’” Francis urges us not to forget “God’s style: closeness, compassion and tender love.” In our first reading, like the words of Pope Francis, we are invited to pray for the grace to abound in love for one another and for all.
As we step into Advent, the season of anticipation and waiting for Christ to be birthed anew in the world, we are not to sit back and wait for God to bring about the promised Kin-dom. The Kin-dom is not just ahead of us but here, among us, and we are called to bring about its fullness by working for the justice and inclusivity, the abounding love, for which God longs.
In the coming weeks, we will be praying with the story of Mary and Joseph on the journey, seeking shelter and a safe place to birth Jesus, and being repeatedly turned away. There are families along our southern border, who, like Mary and Joseph, are seeking shelter and safety, knocking at our door, hoping for freedom and healing. Yet, our southern border is still closed to families seeking asylum because of Title 42, a policy which allows the U.S. government to deny people the right to access asylum due to COVID. Twenty months of Title 42 restrictions have perpetuated exclusion and increased suffering as many wait in hope. Their season of waiting has been long and arduous and our call is to put abounding love for all into policy change.
The gospel reading is not telling us to protect ourselves from the difficulties or anxieties of the world but to work tirelessly to bring about the Kin-dom of God even in the midst of the roaring waves and storming seas. We are not to hide from the chaos and injustices endured by our brothers and sisters but to immerse ourselves in it. We cannot fix all that is broken in our world, but if we put our love into action, we can bring an end to Title 42. We have within us the power to abound in love, to bandage the wounds of our world, and to heal our broken systems with the balm of God. May this be a season of active waiting, of co-creating the Kin-dom of God among us.
Erin McDonald, CSJ, is a Sister of St Joseph and the university minister for service and social justice at the University of Detroit Mercy. She holds degrees from Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia University, and Loyola University New Orleans. She previously served as director of the Service for Social Action Center at Wheeling Jesuit University, as a humanitarian aid worker for Jesuit Refugee Service in Rwanda, and as a social worker at Freedom House, a shelter in Detroit, Michigan, for survivors of torture and persecution who are seeking asylum in the U.S.