Mountains Made Low, Valleys Raised Up

The readings for the second Sunday of Advent are Baruch 5:1-9, Philippians 1:4-6,8-11, and Luke 3:1-6. You can view the readings here.

mountains and valleysZealous hope and urgency towards action emanate from the readings of Advent’s second Sunday, signaling the coming reign of God. Foremost in today’s readings, we hear the refrain that God’s coming kingdom is a great equalizer. In Baruch:

“For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.”

And in Luke, quoting the prophet Isaiah:

“Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

In the lowering of mountains and raising of valleys, the ground is leveled and all walk forward together on equal footing into God’s goodness and salvation. In the Church and in society, this equal footing eludes us in deep ways. We fail to progress “secure in the glory of God” because  as a faith community, as a nation, and as a human family, we allow the marginalization of others.

LGBT ministry in Catholicism is largely a leveling ministry struggling against the marginalizing tendencies of some.

We endeavor to make low the mountains upon which the powerful reside when we structurally support welcoming parishes, when we engage theology for a healthier and more holistic understanding of the human person and sexuality, and when we witness against actions falling short of Gospel love.

We endeavor to fill to level ground those persons who are seen as “less-than” when we secure basic rights that protect all persons, relationships, and families, when we enable our loved ones and neighbors to take off the “robe of mourning and misery” to “put on the splendor of glory from God forever” by being who God created to be, and when we celebrate in community the love common to all, without exclusion.

The coming of God’s kingdom was imminent for the early Christians, who truly believed the Second Coming would occur in their lifetime during the first century. When Paul reminds the Philippians, “that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus,” this is not idle speculation. This good work could find completion any day and John the Baptist’s exhortation to “Prepare the way of the Lord” hints at immediacy.

To our modern selves, it seems that Jesus’ return has taken longer than the first Christians desired. That said, we cannot allow a two thousand year delay to stifle the abundant hope and sense of urgency clung to by these earliest believers. Advent provides an opportunity to renew and reinvigorate our leveling ministry on the LGBT front.

At times, the mountains seem domineering and unconquerable, while valleys are so deep we cannot peer into their darkness. Today’s readings provide us the vital nourishment of unending hope and urgent action so we can, repeatedly at each new step, scale the mountains to lower them and reach into the valleys to exalt them.

Then, together as equals, we walk forward in the light of God to the coming glory that awaits us.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

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