The news of the past couple of days has been focused a bit on Pope Francis’s critical address to the Curia. It has many people within that group disgruntled over the harshness of the comments because this address is typically one of warmth and gratitude towards those who function in Vatican City. To their surprise though, this time it was an airing of dirty laundry, and a reminder to repent. Liturgically, it was the message of John the Baptist delivered by the Vicar of Christ. Why is everyone so shocked? What has been the message of this Advent season and what have we been called to do, and why is it the world so eagerly awaited the birth of this Christ Child? Isn’t Advent a season of penance, a time of examination? Many people argued that the Popes address was more fitting of a Lenten address, but have people forgotten that Advent sometimes is considered a little Lent? Both seasons are marked with that purple color of penance. In that papal address the pope spoke to his Curia, when giving a litany of sins do people think that pope considered himself apart from that Curia. Was not that address also aimed squarely at himself?
On this Eve of Christmas, perhaps it is good to think of that darkness just before dawn. Perhaps it is good to take a look at why people so much await that birth at dawn. War, terrorism, racial tension, poverty, disease, dictatorships, natural disaster, disasters of our own making, human trafficking, exploitation, cultural decay, religious intolerance, and apathy are all darkness that surround dawn. They are some of the international reasons we await the savior. Pope Francis simply gave his reasons why the Church under his guidance awaits their savior.Is it not from our own decay that we need that savior, that infant to enter the world?
Zechariah, in his canticle recited at the birth of his son John begins to realize the promises that lie ahead, despite the darkness that he was living with. Their darkness was not all that different from the darkness that plagues so many around the globe. It was that of being a conquered and oppressed nation, a people struggling for adequate food and impoverished by those that ruled the land. They suffered through the corruption of leaders, and the brutality of an invading army. Yet he also realized that relationship between God and his people. He rejoiced in God, and rejoiced in that Gods salvation.He did not forget Gods promise. He also saw hope in the role his son would play in preparing the way for the Lord, so that that compassionate God would shine on them and deliver them from their darkness, Just as He promised.