Professor Teresa Berger sat down with Divinity School student, Zachary Ladwig GRD '20 to talk about leisure, academics and faith.
Our Advent time of waiting has come to the eve of the Birth of Jesus. During these days we have been encouraged to incorporate our Advent theme, “Be Still and Know that I am God,” into our daily lives. One who most likely was still during a time of waiting was Zechariah, the Father of John the Baptist. Due to his lack of faith in the words of the angel that he and his wife would have a son, he was cast mute until the day of John’s birth. Upon the birth of John his time of stillness ends and he breaks forth in a great song of praise which we hear in our Gospel today.
The beautiful words of Zechariah, known as the Benedictus, are prayed each day at the conclusion of Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. For many, today will be a time of exceptional busyness. For those who have come to know God in a time of stillness, this is a final opportunity to be still and to use that time, brief as it might be, to reflect on Zechariah’s words. With those words he first blesses God and then acknowledges that “in the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” In a few hours, we shall celebrate the Birth of Christ, the Dawn from on High.
Has the fruit of our stillness produced opportunities to be ones who have brought the light of Christ into those who literally dwell in the darkness of poverty, homeless, and addiction? Have our Advent days been ones where we have made peace with God though the Sacrament of Reconciliation; where we have made peace with a family member or friend from whom we have been estranged? Having come to know God in our stillness, do we show more compassion and the tenderness of God’s mercy to those with whom we share life, particularly our spouses, children, co-workers and neighbors? If the answer to these questions is yes, then we have found God in the stillness we have embraced during Advent 2018.
In the opening words of today’s gospel, Mary boldly proclaims the goodness and greatness of God. Despite the very unusual circumstances of her pregnancy, the news of which was shared by an angel, no less, Mary rejoices and feels “blessed” to have been chosen as the mother of Jesus. She is not overwhelmed by fear or panic. She is not paralyzed by inaction. Instead she is brimming with joy and gratitude. Her reaction may appear surprising to some; especially, when viewed through a contemporary lens. How many of us are truly comfortable with uncertainty? Be it in our personal lives, in our own country’s politics, and the world. How do we navigate uncertainty and uncertain times with confidence, grace and gratitude?