But when this begins to happen, rise up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
The path to the independence of every human being begins with standing up. Anyone who’s been ill in bed for a long time knows how easily their inner state begins to correspond to their outer one: they becomes passive; the “patient” (literally: suffering person) suffers what comes to them from the world.
The information society has a dark side when one feels overwhelmed by the wave of news without the possibility of doing anything. As long ago as the 1980s, Stephen Covey recommended that the extent of worries one carries should be aligned with the area of one’s influence. Does that mean that we shouldn’t read the newspaper because lest we be plagued by worries we can’t do anything about?
The Advent reading suggests that we should be aware of world events, even if they are terrible. But it also indicates the activity that makes it possible not to be overwhelmed: we should stand up, lift up our heads. In this upright posture we will learn to recognize the outer phenomena as signs. Even if we do not yet feel fully capable of interpreting the events of the time in detail, the conviction that we have a standpoint that we can maintain in the apparent chaos of our time gives us strength. We rise from passive watching to active witnessing – this means that we also influence what we perceive.