By Canon Gerry Conroy
Waiting is the hardest thing. Waiting for the vaccine, but in the meantime while we are waiting very little seems to have changed. It has been promised, but we still have to wait. Impatience and frustration grows. Conspiracy theories abound, jealousy, then fear and anger. These all spring up from within us because we are impatient with waiting.
Of course it’s not just the vaccine, this frustration and expectation isn’t unique to our situation, you can see similar tensions played out in just about every epoch of human history.
People flocked to John the Baptist because they thought the freedom and salvation they had hoped for was finally appearing with him. They went to him so that they would be prepared for its appearing. That is one thing the generations all have in common, we eventually recognise that we are in the midst of a bad situation and we need help. In our modern era, facing this pandemic, the help we need has come from science and technology. However a danger remains, I think, and that is that is that we think we can solve every problem through science and technology, which is to say that we can neutralise the effects of human failings though science and technology. To suggest that human ingenuity can overcome human failings is a dangerous delusion to build the future on.
There is one large elephant in the room that we still seem to struggle to accept and know what to do with. We struggle to accept human failings as such, we do not want to look in the face what our faith has labelled Original Sin. I noticed the Secretary General of the United Nations said that our planet is broken and that we are waging a suicidal war on the natural world. But he did not suggest that human nature is broken and in need of help. It would be going too far to suggest that we need help because we are broken.
Outside of faith those who do suggest such a thing seem filled with hate for humanity more than anything. Faith on the other hand recognises our brokenness and looks with hope for help in God. As John the Baptist said that help will come to us through Christ who will give us the Holy Spirit. John recognised, as we surely must eventually recognise, the bigger problems we face are not outside us, and the solutions to these are not in technology or science. Our brokenness is the cause of our folly and downfall and it is our souls that are in need of healing.
This Advent as we prepare for Christmas our preparation must be be an opening of our souls to hope and to the Holy Spirit allowing him to come in and begin the work of healing with his presence.