The power of one voice

By: Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB

Second Sunday of Advent, Dec. 6

Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126:1-2,2-3,4-5,6; Philippians 1:4-6,8-11; Luke 3:1-6

VOICES. VOICES. They are all around us! We wake up to voices. We hear voices all day long. We give voice to our own thoughts. What really is a voice except the resonance of a person finding a way to connect one’s convictions with the world outside of himself or herself?

Today’s Gospel is about one voice that heralds a new age, a new way of being and living. Luke, in the Gospel, gives great detail to situate the new era: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas.” Why spend so much time with details except to underline

John’s message of the Messiah who will usher in the new age and bring forth the reign of God? Through this Messiah, Jesus, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

The message of John, like one crying in the desert for anyone to hear, was one of great hope: “Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth.” It is a similar message as in the first reading from Baruch, who urges the Israelites, downtrodden from exile, to “take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever; wrapped in the cloak of justice from God.” (Baruch 5:1-2).

ADVENT IS a time of grace to ponder these words of promise and hope given not only to the Israelites but to us as the people of God. It is a time to create a “sacred space” within to listen attentively to the word of God, which can get so muted in our world of busyness.

It is a time to learn for ourselves to give voice, just as John the Baptist did, to God’s promise of hope in our world so in need of dispelling the darkness and the “rough ways.” Opening ourselves to listen to the words and movement of God within is a critical first step to echo God’s voice to the world.

The importance of one voice, our voice, is reflected in these words called “The Weight of Nothing:”

“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.

“In that case I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said. “I sat on a branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow, not heavily, not in a raging blizzard, no, just like in a dream, without any violence. Since I didn’t have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the next snowflake dropped onto the branch — nothing more than nothing, as you say — the branch broke off.”
Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.

The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for a while and finally said to herself: “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come about in the world.”

Are you willing to be that one voice that makes a difference in offering the Good News of Christ as the peace of our world?

A member of the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery in Rock Island, Sister Rachel Bergschneider, OSB, is the pastoral associate at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights.

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