Charles, a man I am blessed to do literacy work with, came to the U.S. from Rwanda three years ago because it was not safe in his country. A Tutsi, he was asked to spy on the Hutus. He refused, and so feared he would be killed. Rwanda is still recovering from the genocide of 1994 when Hutu militias murdered at least 500,000 people, mainly Tutsis. I thought of Charles as the figure of John the Baptist is introduced in this Sunday’s Gospel and the next. It will not end well for John. Like Charles, he also lived in a land where the civil government might exterminate you. Next Sunday’s Gospel begins, “when John the Baptist heard in prison…”; his imprisonment will end with his beheading, ordered by King Herod. Jesus, who John says “will come after me,” will also die at the hands of civil authority. There is darkness and tragedy in the history of the time of these two cousins, John and Jesus. And also in ours. We find ourselves this Advent living in a world affected by the war in Ukraine. But Wikipedia has 102 global conflict zones listed, with three significant ones currently; many of these areas have been in conflict for many decades. Knowing this provides contrast and heart longing as we hear Isaiah’s description of the messiah in our first reading: “…the calf and the young lion shall browse together…the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.” Soon we will hear the angels sing “Peace on Earth, good will to all” as they announce the birth of Jesus. We so long for peace. But we also hear Paul’s encouragement to overcome the things in us that are unpeaceful as he urges us, “think in harmony with one another…” and “welcome one another as Christ welcomed you.” As the song says, let peace begin with me.
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia