On December 7, 1941, Americans were surprised and shocked when they heard that Pearl Harbor was bombed. They were shaken out of their normal lives into a world of destruction and fear. How would these people have heard and understood today’s Gospel story? How would they have responded to Jesus’ proclamation that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand?

Over 70 years have passed since Pearl Harbor, but our world is still full of hate, terrorism, wars, and suffering. We long for the fulfillment of the angelic message ‘Peace on Earth.’ After reading today’s Gospel, questions arise in me about my response to Jesus’ proclamation about the Kingdom of heaven being at hand.

Do I feel shocked and shaken out of my normal life when I hear these words, or do I just gloss over this familiar story? Do I take to heart that Jesus needs my help to bring about peace on earth, or do I figure that someone else will follow Jesus’ instructions? Do I believe that my actions can heal people, help others to experience peace, and unify my community?

We live in a time of already, but not yet. The Kingdom of God is among us, but it is not yet completed. We await the birth of Christ into the world on Christmas day knowing full well that Jesus lived and died over 2000 years ago. During Advent we must engage these dichotomies and “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons”– all in Jesus’ name.

—Brother John Moriconi, S.J., a noted mandolinist, is provincial’s secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit Province.