In Advent, we are waiting and yearning for one who transforms our fractured world. The prophet Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible sketches that figure for us. His arrival is gentle as a shoot growing on a plant or tree. Like a bud, his kingdom starts as something tiny and delicate. We might easily overlook its arrival. We need eyes to see and notice small signs of his reign of justice and peace already underway.
The figure we are longing for is endowed with personal gifts, gifts that we too need. Faced with a dominant superficiality, he brings deep wisdom and insight. In place of rash foolishness, he brings counsel or advice on what is really needed, and power to effect a deep transformation. In place of a vain sense of our own sufficiency, he brings wisdom, and a clear acknowledgment that we are creatures. With our gaze on the Creator on whom ultimately we depend, we get the true measure of ourselves.
The one for whom we are waiting has a special care for the poor. He notices their plight. He sees the oppression they face. He responds with justice on their behalf. His coming will place them at the centre of the story, like the shepherds who were the first to hear the Good News on the cold Bethlehem hillside.
In Campion Hall over the past term in various conversations, some formal, but mostly informal, over meals, we have touched on the search for transformation that Advent heralds: Pope Francis’s peace efforts in the Ukraine conflict; the Word of God made available in translation; the quest for integrity in the work of the media; engagement with the ecological crisis; points of contact between the poet John Donne and Jesuit culture; the quest for peace in post-conflict situations today.
A special moment was our trip to Stonor Park, where the family there sheltered our patron St Edmund Campion in 1581. His heroic witness inspires us steadfastly to pursue our various contributions to deep reflection on theology, philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities. Through profound engagement with culture and science, we meet our contemporaries of various worldviews who share the same passion for knowledge; we also meet the Creator who in Advent comes down to share our human condition.