Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
Happy New Year! The first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of a new Liturgical Year! It is a time of waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ; a time for celebrating the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
During Advent we look back. We remember and we are grateful. The Messiah, the Savior of the world, has come. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is an historical fact that we must never forget. Our faith is not an intellectual construct or a figment of the imagination. Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, became like unto us in all things but sin to redeem us and to give us an example of what it means to be authentically human. This historical fact is the basis of our faith, hope, love and joy. During Advent we remember this and we are grateful.
During Advent we also look forward. We look forward in joyful anticipation of the second coming of Jesus. The first time Jesus came as a helpless babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. The second time he will come on the clouds with great power and majesty. To the first Christians the return of Jesus was the source of great joy and anticipation. “Come, Lord Jesus.”
During Advent we look back and we look forward. But we live in the present. We live in the present and we wait. We wait for the second coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. He may come at the parousia, which will be the end of the world for everyone, or at death which will be the end of the world for me. Which ever one comes first makes little difference. Our hope empowers us to wait with patience and confidence.
The hope we are speaking about here is not the natural hope which is so characteristic of the world in which we live. This natural hope is the hope that man has in him self, in his science, in his technology. It is based on the awareness of his own powers, talents, energies and the material resources at his command. This hope has put a man on the moon and accomplished many other great and heroic things. But it also has its downside. When a man hopes in himself he makes himself god. Then when the situation becomes intolerable and he can no longer cope with it, there is nothing left but despair. Playing god is the root of despair.
Christian hope is quite different from this natural hope. In fact, Christian hope begins when all natural hope is gone. Christian hope is built on the awareness of our own weakness, the limitations of human nature the manifold difficulties of human life and the absolute necessity of grace. As Paul says, “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
A Christian’s hope is not in himself. It is in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ who is omnipotent, merciful and faithful. He can help us, he wants to help us, and he has promised to help us. And if he is with us who can be against us? With Paul, we are confident that “nothing can separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When we look at ourselves and the difficulties of the present state of the world, we get discouraged. When we turn to Jesus we are reassured. “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world.” Jo.16:33
Advent is a time of waiting. But while we wait we are not inactive. We do not presume. Presumption is a false hope. It is a hope that expects God to do everything for us. It is true that without God we can do nothing. It is also true that without us God will do nothing. God will not do for us what we can do for ourselves. As St. Augustine said, “God who created us without our willing it, will not save us without our willing it.” Christian hope demands human effort.
And the most effective
human effort we can make during Advent is to receive the Eucharist, daily
if possible. The Eucharist is the Risen Jesus. It is a gift from his first
coming, and a preparation for his second coming. We go to Mass as a disciple
to hear the Word of God in the Scripture and to receive the Word of God
in the Eucharist and when Mass is over we leave as an apostle to love
and serve the Lord in one another.
|© 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J. all rights reserved|