ADVENT REFLECTION – given to Students at StBrendans Sixth Form College

Good Morning everyone! It is strange talking to you like this – an All College Assembly via internet, instead of together in the Hall. But then we are drawing close to the end of an extraordinary year – the Covid pandemic affecting all our lives; the Climate Change movement; Black Lives Matter; the defeat of Trump; and leaving the European Union. 

Whatever we think of them, everyone of these events and movements are changing the world we live in. Advent asks each of us a question – are we going to passively endure whatever changes come? Or are we going to work together to change our world – are we going to be agents of change, builders of a new world. Because that is what Advent is really about.

Advent is not about loads of shopping, buying presents, going to parties. It is about being part of developing your world, using your skills, your gifts, your mind and your heart to change your world for the better. Advent is a Season of Hope. But Hope is not creating some ‘wish-list’ – Hope is faith in the future; hope is a vision of a more humane and justice-filled world; hope is the energy to make that vision a reality. 

Hope is the inner urge to progress – it is the forward thrust of an evolving Universe, it is the dynamism of human discovery and exploration. Hope is a fundamental belief in the future, in the possibility of change and progress. Hope knows we are capable of more – of doing more, achieving more, becoming more. The question that challenges us is: more what? More money? More power? Easier life-style?

Or do we yearn for a more just world, a more equal society, more global peace? Do we yearn for a world where the poor are not always on the bottom of heap waiting for the rich world’s ‘charitable’ handouts? Yearn for a world where no child is excluded from education … or clean water … or a healthy and fulfilling future? A world where no child is the victim of war or famine? A world where no child or woman need fear exploitation and abuse? Do we yearn for a world where money no longer rules, but humanity does? Do we yearn for a world where the colour of your skin and the language you speak adds to your beauty and dignity and is no longer the cause of discrimination and violence? 

Will we use our minds, our education, our wonderful giftedness to build such a world? To build a global community of friendship and co-operation that will solve Covid and future pandemics and halt global warming? To build a world where 

every person from every land and culture is truly my sister, my brother, where we build bridges of welcome and friendship, not walls of exclusion and enmity?

In Advent we put up decorations and coloured lights – and in church we light our Advent Candles. But the real lights that make our world more beautiful are not the ones that use electricity, but the ones that shine from lives filled with hope, with faith in each other and the progress of our world: the lights that matter are the actions of love, compassion and care; the lights of courage to dedicate ourselves to build a future of justice, or freedom of opportunity for all the world and especially the poor and excluded. 

If that is our vision, if these are the real lights we shine, then Advent Hope is not a romantic illusion, but a destiny of meaning, happiness and fulfilment for everyone and every thing that shares our planet, our common home! Let this Advent energise us with the determination and commitment to grow a world fit for humanity’s future – then we will be celebrating the Christmas Child born to change the world by liberating a new humanity.

Have a joyful, safe and loving Christmas, everyone!

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