Recently hiking through a state park, the forest floor was covered with newly fallen leaves, a mosaic of interweaving colors. The forest canopy was a palette of colors with oranges, reds, yellows, and greens. Squirrels bounding finding places to hide their cache of nuts for a winter’s feast or perhaps planting future trees. Seemingly songbirds with packed bags, have departed for winter get aways, escaping the impending cold and snow.
At home, sadness with the last of the summer blooms. Time to clean the garden and for a few lucky plants the move to indoors. Summer décor and toys put away.
With temperatures steadily become colder and diminishing sunlit hours, nature is preparing for sleep. Soon the paths will be buried in snowdrifts and trees will stand naked. The weight of the news: shootings and bombings, senseless wars such as in Ukraine, starvation, cancer, inflation with rumors of recession, and devasting storms, point to a world that seems to be ending. Winter is coming!
In the final days of our liturgical year, and in the first weeks of Advent, we encounter a message that our world will end, stars will fall, the sun will be no more, people will be divided. From our perspective it seems we have reached the end of the world. As one writer has noted, “there are no seasons to violence. It is endless winter, “always winter,” as C.S. Lewis describes the Kingdom of Narnia under the witch’s reign, “and never Christmas.”
Midst this gloom we have memories of past seasons. Nature reminds us that winter recedes, and that beneath the lifeless landscape, hidden in death, is life. Our liturgical year also reminds us that hidden in death is life. Next week the celebrations of All Saints and All Souls Day remind us that death is a transition to the fullness of eternal life. Advent will prepare us for not only the second coming but also the birth of Christ. Christ is the light shining in the darkness of our lives and that is a message to keep in our hearts when overwhelmed by the darkness.
This is also World Mission Sunday. At baptism we are sent on mission to bring the light of Christ to those in darkness. Pope Francis writes, “’You shall be my witnesses’ – The call of every Christian to bear witness to Christ. This is the central point, the heart of Jesus’ teaching to the disciples, in view of their being sent forth into the world. The disciples are to be witnesses of Jesus, thanks to the grace of the Holy Spirit that they will receive. Wherever they go and in whatever place they find themselves. Christ was the first to be sent, as a “missionary” of the Father (cf. Jn 20:21), and as such, he is the Father’s “faithful witness” (cf. Rev 1:5).
In a similar way, every Christian is called to be a missionary and witness to Christ. And the Church, the community of Christ’s disciples, has no other mission than that of bringing the Gospel to the entire world by bearing witness to Christ. To evangelize is the very identity of the Church.” We act in solidarity this day, as we pray and share our gifts to help build-up the church around the world where the witness of Christ and support of the poor is still needed most.
Have a blessed week!