In many ways and at every turn we see and experience brokenness and pain – in ourselves, in our brothers and sisters, in our family, among our children or siblings, in our neighborhood, communities and nations. Brokenness can come from unexpected turns of events: sickness, disappointment, loss of loved one, betrayal, a relationship that has soured etc. The experience of brokenness is not common to our generation; it has always been there from the time our first parents set their feet in this world, for brokenness is part of the consequences of Original Sin. The experience of brokenness is such a part of human life that Igbo people in Nigeria believe that the first cry of a child when she is born is “Uwaa! Uwaa!! Uwaa!!!” which means “This world! this world!! this world!!!”, literally translating. In the midst of the brokenness and pain we all experience and see around us, hope always rises and points to a future where healing and peace are possible experiences. It is an intrinsic aspect of our Judeo-Christian history that God is able to work through our brokenness and bring about new life of peace and justice.
The prophet Jeremiah lived through a period of national humiliation in exile to Babylon. Judah was completely broken and shamed. Children of Israel were reeling in pain and disillusionment. But through the wreckages of brokenness and pain, Jeremiah saw the future of Judah and Israel filled with God’s glory, for God would fulfill his promises: “See, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I am going to fulfill the promise I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah” (Jer. 33:14). It is a promise of renewal, transformation, and healing. What God promised to do in Israel and Judah was only a foretaste of what he was going to do for the whole world and for all peoples. Hence the prophecy continues: “In those days and at that time, I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David, who shall practice honesty and integrity in the land. In those days Judah shall be saved and Israel dwell in confidence. And this is the name the city will be called: Yahweh-our-integrity” (Jer. 33:15-16). Remember that when Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, rose to power around 930BC, Israel was split into two: the Kingdom of Israel in the North with Samaria as the capital, and the Kingdom of Judah in the South, with Jerusalem as the capital. Even the schism was a great brokenness inflicted on the very soul of Israel. God, however was doing something new, something that would, in time reverberate throughout the whole world.
That healing and peace that God would do, came in the person of Jesus Christ. Every day, every moment in our lives and in our world, God is bringing about healing to our brokenness and pain. But, often we do not see it because we are lost in the everyday activities, which is why Jesus cautioned us not to let our hearts become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life (Luke 21:34). We should wake up from the sleep of everydayness and see and receive the healing and salvation that God constantly extends to us. It is to this hope that this First Sunday of Advent invites each one of us.
May this hope live in you every day of your life. Amen.