~ A Reflection by Sr. Terezinha Esperanca Merandi, MSC originally written for the Global Sisters Report.
Advent is a coming, an awaiting, expectation. It involves emptiness, an openness, eyes, heart and spirit awake! Wanting to be filled, looking for something more and better.
It spells H-O-P-E and b-e-y-o-n-d the here and now of all around.
In South Sudan, in this fragmented country of conflict and shattered dreams, having completed a decade of independence and yet living in the constant, haunting shadow of war, ambush, kidnappings, torture and brutal killings, this youngest and newest country in the world can choose!
Choose what? Choose to “put pain to purpose”!1 There is so much pain and trauma here in this “adolescent of a country”, whose dreams waver on nightmares when faced with everyday threats and obstacles. Where is God? Where is change? Where is hope? How to “feed” hope? Teach our hearts to hope, dream for the future, hope in impossible times of sadness and tragedy? How?First and foremost: to stay with; not cloud, abandon or mystify reality. Join hands (hearts and spirits), even in this time of Covid; defy mistrust and fear to find energy, that can be renewed, in a community of believers who know that Emmanuel is on the horizon.
Relationship and sharing enable a unifying process, beyond revenge, separation, hatred and exclusion. Is this not what the promises of the Incarnation, of God’s Advent into our human history brought about? Hope! And hope in abundance feeding our life in need (Jn 10,10).
Mustering up a maturing in growth for mindful re-evaluation: God is light, His light has come into the world (Jn 1,4-5.9). Reaching out, willfully, in dialogue, going towards encounter: exer-cising a freedom, true and deep, which breaks down barriers (Jn 4,10). Making love real, tan-gible, present in the situation here and now: affectively not withdrawing and being inclusive of all ailing parties (Jn17,21.26). Where there is great suffering, only great love can endure,2 to give meaning and motivation for the struggle ahead, forging the pathway forward with purpose: accompanying/building/ encouraging the newness of life being born, strengthening faltering and slumping hope, be-ing a bridge in the breach for reconciliation and peace.
Advent of Jesus’ Incarnation in South Sudan: Come, Lord Jesus, Come! Oh Wisdom, oh Adonai, oh Stem of Jesse, Radiant Star, David’s Key, King of all Nations, Emmanuel,3 Come! Walk with us through tragedy into the joy and hope of your ever-coming Advent Presence! Christmas Peace on South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Nicaragua and All!
~ Terezinha Esperança Merandi, MSC November 27, 2021 Kit, South Sudan
To read a related article in the Global Sisters Report please click here
1 Jane “Nightbirde” Marczewski, CNN interview, Chris Cuomo Prime Time, June 23, 2021.
2 Richard Rohr develops this theme at length in “The Universal Christ”, p.83.
3 “O” antiphons of the Advent Evening Prayer Magnificat, December 17 – 23.