Third Wednesday of Advent

Psalm 126

Reflection—v.5, ‘those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy’

Psalm 126 rings with the themes of reversal and rejoicing we see in the Magnificat. In an unexpected reversal of fortunes, homeless Israel is suddenly called to return home. Such impossible news was ‘like a dream’ (v. 1). But ‘then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy’ (v. 2). Such joy, born from the experience of God’s saving activity, leads to an expression of an even more profound, and subversive, faith: sorrow itself can now be seen as a preamble to joy. Because God has acted decisively in their favor, the exiles are able to look back on their experience of suffering, now radically re-contextualized by the reality of salvation. Their understanding doesn’t become triumphalistic; it respects their former experience of pain, even to its utter, seemingly inescapable depths. But it also holds tension with their new, quite unexpected, reality of liberating reversal: ‘those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy’ (v. 5). In Advent, like the exiles—like Mary—we sow, even if with tears, knowing that God is able to enter into our story and turn it for joy.

Prayer God our Savior, may all our sowing in tears be reaped with shouts of joy.

-Chad Hyatt