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Glancing Thoughts
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Year C
December 19, 2021
Eleonore Stump
Where the Truth Lies

In the Readings for Sunday, there is the sketch of a wonderful world. 

In that world there are angels, who take care of human beings. There is a ruler, who shepherds people and protects them. By his power and his goodness he brings peace to all the earth. 

What world are the writers of the Readings living in?

There is peace for the troubled psyche of every person too. God turns each unsettled, uneasy, unhappy heart to himself. And, turned to God, every heart can be at peace. 

There is salvation from sin and even holiness. God has redeemed his people and consecrated them to himself. They are the saints of God.

And there is glory.

Who was this Elizabeth? An ordinary Jewish woman of her time, distinguished by her barrenness and not much more. And yet look at her in the Gospels, filled with the Holy Spirit and exercising the office of prophet to Mary, mother of the Lord. She is glorious in this story, isn’t she? In the world sketched by the Readings there is the glory and beauty of holiness available for all God’s people.

But consider the everyday world we live in. Do we find angels, majestic rulers, goodness protecting the people, peace in the world, holiness in our hearts, glory in our lives? Look around the mall, listen to the news media. What world are the writers of the Readings living in?

And yet our own experience of grace gives us hope in the world of the Readings, doesn’t it?

The ugliness and the evil, so easy to see, overlie a deeper reality, which we can sense in the quiet moments of our lives when, like Mary, we are open to the call of the Lord. The everyday world of the mall and the news media, which looks so compelling, is a thin thing which will crumple and dissolve in time. What will remain is the world we hear about in Sunday’s Readings. 

In Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms!” (Dt 33:27). Underneath, in the refuge of the everlasting arms, is where the truth of the Readings lies. And the Truth behind the Readings lies in the womb of Mary, waiting to be born.

Eleonore Stump

Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University

Art by Martin Erspamer, OSB
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C). This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go