An Advent Reflection
The theme of the fourth week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of ‘God with us’” from last Sunday’s readings. Today’s advent verse is from the book of Leviticus.
I will place my dwelling in your midst,
and I shall not abhor you.
And I will walk among you, and will be your God,
and you shall be my people. —Leviticus 26:11-12
It’s a little shocking to hear God say: “I shall not abhor you.”
We are pretty well schooled in the notion that God loves us. We imagine God as infinitely gracious and accepting. He knows how frail we are. He understands our faults and failings.
And while all that is true, it is worth remembering that our frailty and failings are not something God looks upon with an affectionate indulgence. If we do not permit our children to hit their siblings, why should God not abhor barrel bombs and those who drop them and those who order them dropped? Why should God not abhor the bombing of hospitals, the mangled flesh of children? Why should God not abhor the murder of policemen or murder by policemen? Why should God not abhor hate speech and family violence? Why should God not abhor arrogance and self-righteousness – especially among those who claim to speak for God?
Why should God not abhor the garbage floating in the sea or the slaughter of rhinos for a belief in the magic power of their horns? Why should God not abhor those who purchase ivory or conflict diamonds? Why should God not abhor those who traffic in women and children or those who purchase their “services”? We could go on and on. We stand before the eternal font of mercy with no excuses for humanity’s cruelties.
But God does not “abhor” us. God does not cast us off as hopelessly unclean. He places his dwelling in our midst (meaning the temple). And he takes up our flesh to walk among us.
It’s pretty stunning. And we should be stunned. And grateful. And kneeling in submission. And weeping for joy.