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Sunday, December 16, 2018 Third Sunday in Advent

December 16, 2018

adventcal2018week3smThe imagination is fundamental to all human activity; indeed, exercising imagination is the creative and critical, intuitive and integrative process central to human becoming. It gives us the power to remember the past, to shape our desires, and to project possibilities for the future. The scholar Wendy Wright aptly describes the imagination as: the crucial capacity of the human person to create a world – either the familiar world of the everyday or a world not yet visible. Our relentless human search for new ways of being and relating, our dreams of beauty, our longings for mercy and justice. . .

As such, the imagination is the central faculty of creativity, allowing us to imagine the unseen and give form to the new. The imagination is what allows us to see meaning hidden in the depths of the world. Creativity is at the heart of many human pursuits: artmaking, dreaming and discerning our futures, creating loving relationships, playing in our leisure time, generating new ideas in the workplace, building new visions for what is possible for our communities, and working toward justice.
– Christine Valters Paintner

Imagination is, like many of our human attributes, a two-edged sword. It can be used, as Christine Valters Paintner writes, to build “new visions of what is possible, and [work] toward justice” but it can also be the thing that keeps us stuck in illusions about ourselves and our communities. We can get fairly comfortable with what we perceive to be the truth about ourselves and others, and sometimes it takes an uncomfortable jolt to loosen those fantasies so that a truer picture can emerge. Sometimes the picture that emerges isn’t all that attractive. Often changing it to something true, which is the essence of humility – that is, having a true picture – requires repentance, or apology, or amends, or all three of those hard tasks. But we know from the Good News of Jesus that we are forgiven and loved, and that’s what makes it possible to work through to the truth about ourselves, because the truth about ourselves, no matter how hard it may be to look at, always includes that Good News at its core. And there’s real freedom on the other side of that hard work, freedom from illusion and lies and attachment to ideas and identities that cannot bear the weight of who we truly are.

In today’s Gospel reading, the people ask John the Baptizer if he is the Messiah. He is free and humble enough to say that he is not. What a temptation it must have been to say he was, though, to a group of people very willing to believe it and follow him. There would have been some power and prestige with that, but not the real kind of power that comes with giving up the need for those things. John knew who he was, and he was free.

Let us pray to be released from the prisons we build for ourselves and for others.

–Baya Clare, CSJ

Today’s scripture