Today was a long day. After a good but tiring weekend in D.C., I spent most of the day in a van driving back home. Once there, there was laundry and lots of schoolwork. I didn’t get to Mass until the 6 p.m. service. I usually like going in the early morning, but that was the only one I was able to get to. I got there a bit early and got to enjoy the pianist and cantor practicing Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus while I said a Chaplet of Divine Mercy. The pre-Mass moments helped shift me from my tiring, chaos, loud weekend back into the reflective beauty of the Church and Advent.
As I looked at the Advent wreath, I couldn’t remember what the second week was supposed to represent. First is hope; third is joy, but what was second? After I got home, I finally remembered: peace. Of course I’d forget peace, I thought. Despite the pleas for peace on earth during this time of year, I’m always feeling frustrated and chaotic. It’s the end of term, so I’m always preoccupied with school, hoping to get everything turned in so that I can finally start thinking about the season a couple of weeks late. It’s just hard for me to feel peaceful during one of the busiest weeks of a student’s year.
And I have it easy. I’m beyond privileged. How difficult it must be for people who are living in danger of violence, of discrimination, of hunger, of illness, of loss. How can people find peace in their day to day lives when life is war? How can peace on earth mean anything when the earth is seeped in pain and violence? Is peace attainable now, or must it only be a future state, a hope to get us through the present?
As part of Advent, we’re supposed to be looking at the future. The present is bleak; that is why he need a savior, why we’re calling for Jesus to come. But we cannot wait in chaos waiting for the season to change. We have to break through the business, the stress, the dangers, toils, and snares. We have to have hope now. We have to bring about peace now. The chances at peace pass by if we are too caught up in our own problems. Help is at hand. God is not absent, even while we wait for him.