Second Sunday of Advent
Second Reading: Romans 15: 4-9
Today, St Paul continues to encourage his readers to keep going even though they are tempted to give up hope.
He reminds them of the times in the past when God has helped those who persevered and promises that God will do the same for them.
He also prays that God will help them to stay tolerant of one another - and united in mind and voice so that their witness gives glory to God.
This is the voice of the realist.
When people are fired up with new ideas and new enterprises, there is often a strong sense of unity. Where there is opposition, people create a solidarity that helps them to face hostility and suspicion.
But such things take energy - and, over time, the cracks begin to show. Usually, it starts with disagreements over details - but as time goes on, people end up disagreeing over major issues and the effects of their culture and upbringing begin to show.
In the Christian community in Rome - as in most of the early Christian communities - there would have been a mix of people from different backgrounds. This would have been one of the very few places where slaves and free people would mix on anything like equal terms. People from different parts of the Roman Empire had come to Rome - bringing with them the heritage of their homelands.
This melting-pot provided a wealth of insight and inspiration to the new communities - but brought with it plenty of scope for conflict and irritation as cultures and backgrounds clashed.
St Paul is encouraging tolerance and friendliness reminding them that Christ came not only to fulfil Godís promises to the Jewish people - but also to bring pagans into the story - all being drawn into the one body that is Christ.
Things are not very much different in our day. As the Church has expanded - so it has drawn in people of many races - cultures - backgrounds. All bring with them a something unique in their way of seeing God at work in the world. It makes for tension and irritation - as it is human nature to see our way as the right way - or, even worse, as Godís way!
This great diversity, though, brings with it a vision - of a Christ who is great enough to draw all this diversity into a unity (not the same as uniformity!) . And it is this unity-in-diversity that gives glory to our God.
What does it mean for me?
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