Where’s it all going? What is the point of all the efforts we put in? Is it all just a party that will eventually come to an end?
Another way to ask this question is this: what kind of city do we want to live in? What’s our vision of life? I’m a New Yorker so, of course, heaven would look like New York, except I’d have a lot more money in my pocket. I love the crowds, the noise, the way people seem to race down the street. It’s as if they cannot get enough of life.
Others hate New York, of course, and never want to go there. The very things that excite me are the very things that drive them crazy. Crowds, noise, rushing around? They’d rather be on a farm in Iowa than walking in Central Park.
In the first reading we have a section near the opening of the book of the prophet Isaiah. He is speaking to people surrounded and threatened by their national enemies, people who wanted the very destruction of Jerusalem. But Isaiah turns it around: one day, he says, people will be rushing toward Jerusalem. They will all want to live there. They will realize that living in Jerusalem means living in the city of God.
That was the message the people in Isaiah’s time needed to hear. But God has a bigger message for us. God’s plans for us are not a single city like Jerusalem. Nor even a great and populous city like New York. God invites us into his city, the city that shows us why we are living and what our goals in life should be like.
The opening Sunday of Advent gives us a choice: what are we living for? Do we think life is all ultimately about nothing? Or do we think our lives come to greater meaning and fulfillment? The vision God has for us is the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom where you and I live in the fullness of life and love. This is a vision, a Kingdom, which no amount of negativity can destroy.
We can live as if things didn’t make sense, stuffing our bellies and getting drunk. Lots of people choose this option today. Look at the amount of addiction and self-destruction that happens on a regular basis in our world. One statistic said that one in five young adults die from the abuse of addiction. Or we can live as if every moment of our lives makes sense because we have made the greatest discovery we can make: we have discovered the immensity of God’s love for us.
We often think of Advent as a time of searching, of seeking, of waiting through the dark and cold of winter. Indeed, we do seek and search every moment of our lives. But more than our searching for God, there is God’s seeking us, encountering us, beholding us in infinite love, and telling us that we have a place in his life, in his city, where all of humankind can rejoice together, a Kingdom where divine love will be unconstrained in our hearts.
Where is it all going? What city are we seeking? Can we join in God’s project of building a Kingdom in which everyone can dwell?
Reflection Question: What is my vision of the destiny of humankind?