December 12, 2021
Susan Quaintance OSB, St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL
Zep 3:14-18a; Phil 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18
How appropriate to hear from the prophet Zephaniah on this third Sunday of Advent, coinciding as it does with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Oxford Biblical Commentary calls Zephaniah “a thoroughly radical prophetic book – a charter for the ‘little people’ of all corrupt societies.”
Today’s prophecy is all about presence. Even as I await the coming Incarnation, I am reminded that the Holy One is already with me, with us, rejoicing and renewing, and singing. Imagine!
I have a distinct memory of hearing, really hearing, this reading proclaimed when I was a college freshman. The idea of God “singing joyfully because of [me] was miraculous and unlikely, hard-to-understand and transforming. It was one of those times when I understood the deep and mysterious love of God differently. As a young adult, growing in self-knowledge, I was coming to new awareness of my own littleness, seeing that I had a long way to go before I was anywhere near the woman I wanted to be. And yet . . . here God was, here was where God wanted to be.
The picture got bigger later, of course. Through scripture courses and liturgy, I learned about the covenant relationship between God and Israel. God’s tender care of God’s “little worm” Israel (Isaiah 41:14) was equally wondrous as what I experienced, given how prone God’s people was to screwing up, how it seemed like there was always somebody bigger, looking to oppress them.
Maybe Juan Diego, in his encounters at Tepeyac, felt something similar. How amazing it must have been for him to feel seen and heard, to be visited by the mother of Jesus, looking familiar and recognizable and comforting, speaking his language. Certainly being in the presence of the Holy prompted courage he didn’t know he had and determination that made big things happen for people thought to be “little.”
It is truly a day for rejoicing. Amid the darkness and division, right smack at the center of the confusion and consternation . . . God is.
May I remember that. May my shouts of joy awaken hope and exultation in others. Gaudete!
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Sister Susan Quaintance, OSB, is a member of St. Scholastica Monastery in Chicago, IL. She has served her community in several positions, including formation director, secretary, and liturgy committee member. She is currently Director of Client Services at Comfort Keepers, an in-home caregiving company.
Photo of Our Lady of Guadalupe 44783105 / Guadalupe © Jesus Eloy Ramos Lara | Dreamstime.com