Sunday Reflection Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 22, 2013): Waiting for Signs


“Scripture has depths missing from other forms of wisdom.  This is closer to the ground we walk on.” — Jeanne Schuler, PhD.

This weekend is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. The readings can be found here.  We are coming to the end of Advent Season and are waiting the beauty of the Incarnation as the ultimate sign of God’s presence in the universe.

Today’s reflection is courtesy of Jeanne Schuler, Professor of Philosophy at Creighton University. You can find the entire reflection here, but set forth below is an extended excerpt:

“Should we ask God for signs?  In Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, the Grand Inquisitor condemns Jesus for refusing to give us signs when he was tempted by the devil in the desert.  If only God had turned stones into bread, then humans would have the proof we need.  For this cardinal, people seek signs because they are too fearful to embrace true faith.

Do we hesitate to look for signs?  After all, education teaches us to view the universe as matter in motion that follows mathematical laws.  We learn that what is unexpected always has a cause, even if we haven’t discovered it yet.  There is nothing new under the sun, we say. Yet Advent is a time of expectation, of awaiting the remarkable.

Look closer: our lives are full of signs of beginnings.  When the robin returns, spring is close at hand.  A first cry means the baby is born.  To build peace after years of struggle, Nelson Mandela extends a hand to his jailers.  A candle is lit in the darkness.  Pope Francis kneels and washes the feet of a Muslim girl.  Witnessing the presence of the sacred, we sign the cross.

God promised that a child will be born whose life shows how “God is with us.”  Who would have thought [the] son of God would be conceived by an unwed mother, be homeless at birth, a refugee for years, tortured and crucified as a criminal, only to return to his friends after the resurrection?  Our horizon shifts.  There is much more to reality than what we expect.

When we find our place with the poor, with the child, with the single mother, with the gang member, with our enemies, we are the signs that God is with us.  Pope Francis warns us not to close our doors to sinners and imbibe our own righteousness.  In his recent letter, he writes, “I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”  God’s kingdom is not a fortress.  When we move outside the walls, we share in the freedom of God.”

Creighton University Reflection Fourth Sunday of Advent
Creighton University Online Ministries

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog ( explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
This entry was posted in Sunday Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sunday Reflection Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 22, 2013): Waiting for Signs

  1. RicRose says:

    William, I am enjoying your website very much. Pierre Teihard de Cardin as been instrumental in arriving at my personal epistemology. On a personal note, I lived and worked in a l’arche community for 15 years. Here is, for me, a wonderful reflection by Chardin, which fits the advent season quite well.

    “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
    We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
    We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

    We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown,
    something new; and yet it is the law of all progress that is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time.

    And so it is with you, your ideas mature gradually – let them grow, let them shape themselves without undue haste.
    Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make you tomorrow.

    Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming in you will be.
    Give our Lord the benefit of believing that God’s hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.”

    – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    • Ric, thank you so much for the kind words. It is always nice to meet another person who admires Teilhard de Chardin. Like you, he was very instrumental in my personal journey. I believe his insights are even more relevant today than during his lifetime.

      It is very impressive that you were part of a L’arche community for 15 years. Jean Vanier is another impressive person as is anyone who is part of L’arche.

      Thank you for sharing the Patience Prayer by Teilhard de Chardin. It is one of my favorites and definitely appropriate for teh Advent Season. Patience is not my strong suit and I have the Patience Prayer as a constant reminder of one of the things I need to work on.

      Thank you again for stopping by and for your kind comments.

      W. Ockham

  2. “When we find our place with the poor, with the child, with the single mother, with the gang member, with our enemies, we are the signs that God is with us.”
    She expresses so well what I’ve been struggling these past two days to articulate about the significance of Jesus’ birth.
    Thank you for sharing. Like RicRose, I too appreciate your blog posts.
    This Christmas, may your home be filled with the peace and joy that Christ brings to our lives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s