An Advent Reflection
The theme of the second week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of the Spirit” from last Sunday’s readings. Today’s advent verse is from the prophet Joel.
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves, in those days,
I will pour out my spirit. —Joel 2:28-29
We get a little preoccupied with the spectacular. We like fireworks. So our attention zeroes in on prophesy, dreams and visions. But the prophet’s attention is on the word ‘all’: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh.”
We read this passage at Pentecost because Peter stands up and interprets the wonder of Pentecost with the passage from Joel. But again, the promise is not that some people will get the Spirit; the promise is that the Spirit will come upon all. Maybe the prophet didn’t yet imagine that ‘all’ meant anyone beyond the borders of Judea, but the story in Acts shows God doing exactly that – on Samaritans, the Ethiopian Eunuch, the Roman Centurion and all his family, people once excluded from participation in the worship of the temple are now a temple of the Spirit.
The vision is wondrous. And we must not lose the vision: all creation governed by the Spirit of the God who guards the sojourner, delivers from bondage, teaches justice and mercy, love of God and love of neighbor, who declares all people are our neighbor (there’s that word ‘all’ again) and lays down his life forgiving even his torturers. That Spirit. Governing every heart. It’s why the prophets dare to speak of the lion lying down with the lamb – or the cheetah and the gazelle. All flesh.
We have a ways to go before this promise is fully realized. We have a way to go before it is realized in us. But this we await. This we seek. And this we try to live: that this Spirit of wondrous love may at least govern me.