•Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11; I Thess 5: 16-24; John 1: 6-8, 19-28•
Weekly Scripture Readings: 3rd Sunday in Advent
We now are well into Advent. Advent reinitiates our journey into “the Christ Mystery.” This year Robert Frost’s poem: “The Road Not Taken” is our companion. Absorb these images:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
“The road less traveled by.” One has come among us in whom hope, healing, freedom and love find their most eloquent expression. Yet the Christ way remains “the one less traveled by.” Surely we anticipate and look forward to Christmas. But Advent, the Christ Mystery, turns our gaze toward the future.
We know about Jesus, right? He refused to have an enemy. He turned water into wine and healed lepers. He loved without condition and was the first among us to be fully alive and fully human. Although he died young, his apparent weakness was stronger than the might of Rome. God raised him from the tomb.
Yes we know about Jesus, but we still struggle to comprehend “the Christ Mystery!” Those who have gone before us in this faith community left us puzzled, often confused. They assert he came to suffer and die in atonement for our sins! Really? That is no longer what I believe!
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” We are so fortunate. We live in these decades after John XXIII convened a Council in which the bishops of the world opened the possibility for us to understand and enter more fully into “the Christ Mystery.” Those who take “the road less traveled” discover “that makes all the difference.”
“A man named John . . . came to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.”
Our knowledge of John, his inner life, and his motives is minimal. John left his small village. At the Jordan River he symbolically called his people back to their origins.
The author of John’s gospel tells us, John came “to testify to the light so that all might believe through him.” In this first reference to Jesus, the evangelist says John testified so “all might believe through” Jesus. “Two roads diverged in the woods.”
A strange thing happened. The focus of the life and preaching of Jesus was that Gracious Mystery we name God. In the decades after the crucified One was experienced as risen and alive, a dramatic shift occurred. The passionate fire that moved him to announce “the reign / the kingdom of God” was forgotten. Gradually those early Christians shifted their focus and the Risen One became the message. They seemed to forget that John came “so all might believe through him.” The Risen One became the focus and “the Christ Mystery” became atonement theology.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.” The season of Advent reminds us that “two roads” stretch out before us.” Advent calls us to take “the one less traveled by.”
One road leads into the past, the birth of Jesus, Christmas. This road is through a forest of warm and sentimental memories. It is well traveled. The other leads into the future, “the Christ Mystery.” This road is through a forest of uncertainty and challenge. It is “the one less traveled .”
Today various catastrophic events pull humanity into isolation and aggression. People fear the worst could happen and it could. There is an alternative to that. It is the One in whom hope, healing, freedom and love find their most eloquent expression. It is Christ. Listen to Advent’s call. The “Christ Mystery” is this. The Risen Christ now dwells at the very heart of the cosmos. He is “the road less traveled,” the divine love energy that draws, connects and holds all together.