First Tuesday of Advent
Reading: Revelation 18:1-10
Reflection: Today we are again faced with the metaphorical, symbolic language of prophecy – this time from John, the writer of the Revelation. Here again, we might be tempted to view this only in terms of judgment and destruction, but there is a message of grace and justice to be found here as well.
The personification of Babylonis a powerful way to depict the temptation to ignore God’s ways of justice and peace, and embrace, rather, the ways of power, accumulation and addiction. The excesses that are represented by this arrogant figure are prevalent in our economic, political, and entertainment systems today. We have fallen prey to exactly the dangers that this vision warns against – uncontrolled desire for wealth and power, and the constant, instant gratification of our every desire – and our world, and its peoples are suffering under the weight of our lack of wisdom and responsibility. This is why God calls God’s people to distance themselves from this way of being. The reign of God calls us to be people of simplicity and generosity, not accumulation. The reign of god calls us to be people of service and humility not domination and control. The reign of God calls us to be people of discipline and restraint, not addiction and self-gratification. Ultimately, God’s ways are really commonsense, and lead to the best, most abundant, life. But, if we choose to go our own way, we will, eventually, have to face the consequences – as we are doing in our world now.
So, in what ways have you allowed yourself to become part of these “Babylonian” ways? Are there parts of your life that are still plagued by greed, or the hunger for power or self-gratification – even in small ways? In what ways can God’s coming to you challenge you to release these ways, and embrace the ways of God’s reign a little more? Choose one thing to practice in particular today.
Prayer: God of justice and mercy, You always call us to life that is vibrant and full and that brings life to others. Teach me your ways of simplicity, humility and restraint, and use me, however you can, to bring more of your grace and wisdom into my world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.