A cry for help, a call to be vigilant

A cry for help, a call to be vigilant

1st Sunday of Advent, Year B (Mark 13:33-37)
December 3, 2017
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB

PERHAPS never before, in its long history, has humankind attained so much scientific and technological progress in such a short span of time as we have witnessed in the past fifty years or so. The computers, the Internet and Social Media have transformed our lives. We have reached the moon and sent space probes to Mars and even to the remotest planet of the solar system. We have discovered the DNA, and completed the genome . . . . The list becomes longer by the day and there seems to be no end in sight.

These wonderful discoveries and achievements should have brought a much better life to all human beings. They should have led to the elimination of mass poverty and hunger. By now, we should have better health, education, and housing conditions for all. People should be closer to one another and happier.

Such was the dream and the expectation of all. But it has not become a reality. Unfortunately, the greed of a clique of tycoons and profiteers, the lust for power and the crave to dominate and exploit others have led us to our present sad situation. We have an apparently unstoppable global warming that is threatening to wipe out entire regions; the desert is advancing at a frightening pace; deforestation is denuding our mountains and plains. . . . All these factors expose the earth to an increasing number of various forms of natural calamities, such as floods and landslides.

As if these tragedies were not enough, many scientists want to play God and experiment with life and human embryos the way children play with sand. We live in the terror that certain scientific tampering with life may produce monsters beyond the control of those who have created them . . . . We live in the constant terror of a nuclear annihilation, if ever war should break out among nuclear powers, or if a nuclear arsenal ends up in the hands of some radical groups or terrorists.

In this way, the dream of a happier and better humanity has often turned into a nightmare; the expectation, into a deep disillusionment and general pessimism in many. We all appreciate the value of science and the contribution it has made and can still make to the creation of a more efficient society. However, it has become ever more obvious that science and more money, if not guided by sound moral principles, can cause more harm than good. It is obvious, as Pope Benedict XVI says in his encyclical “Spe Salvi,” that “science cannot save man.” (Spe Salvi, 26.)

We need to be saved by Someone who is both immensely intelligent but also equally wise, Someone who is both thoroughly merciful and just. This “Someone” cannot be a simple creature, no matter how intelligent, good, powerful, and well-meaning. Only God can bring real happiness to mankind. Only LOVE – the authentic love that God is – can bring us the salvation, peace, and harmony we all yearn for. This aspiration becomes a reality in JESUS CHRIST, God’s incarnate Son. He alone can save mankind, not only by preparing for it an eternity of happiness in the world to come, but also by teaching us all to live in harmony, peace, and collaboration even here on earth.

Advent is the period of the year in which we are invited to recognize the need to receive such all-encompassing and lasting salvation, and to pray that the Lord may grant us just that. That’s why Advent is the season of honesty and the season of hope. It is the season of the honesty that brings us to acknowledge our radical incapacity to bring about in full the good we dream of. It is the season of hope because we know that God is more than willing to do for us the wonder that we have failed to accomplish, and has the power to do so. At the very start of Advent, we are invited to reawaken our hope that the same Jesus who was born two thousand years ago will work for us the wonders of old . . . and more. It is now up to us to do our share in the way that the following Sundays will outline.