Week 1: Hope [gview file="http://www.catholic-dbn.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/advent-2017-week-1.pdf" height="600px" width="100%" save="1"]
It is always a good idea to read and reflect on something which challenges us to bring the resurrection of the Lord back to earth and living … into our world. Jesus Christ rose from the dead here on earth – not in heaven – and right from the beginning his new life on earth had a profound effect on a variety of men and women.
So, let us anchor our reflection on this Sunday’s scriptures on today’s
ENTRANCE ANTIPHON which is taken from Psalm 33 (or 32): “the merciful love of the Lord fills the earth; by the word of the Lord the heavens were made.”
In these words the vital connection between earth and heaven is made. The Lord God is in complete control over the entire universe. The heavens belong to him but so does the earth. However, it is on earth that the real power of Jesus’ resurrection has to be harnessed by his disciples.
It does not matter that we are frail and limited by our ineptitudes.
This is the fact because his merciful love fills the earth. Notice the connection between his love and his mercy. One cannot be understood without the other. The Lord cannot love us unless he is merciful – and he is merciful because he loves us. This is the reality which must cut us to the heart as it did to those who first heard it on the day of Pentecost – as recorded in OUR FIRST READING [ACTS 2: 14a. 36 – 41].
Jesus’ love and mercy are his very own promise to us – a promise guaranteed by the resurrection
. It is a promise “to you and to your children and to all that are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” Those whom God calls are those who accept the fact of his love and his mercy. However, this acceptance is linked to action. Hear the question asked by Peter’s listeners – “what shall we do?” It is important that we also accept Peter’s answer which was “save yourselves from this crooked generation.”
Indeed, Jesus Christ is the Saviour …… but we also have to save ourselves. Of course, the secret here is to save ourselves from this crooked generation – and very often from ourselves! In other words, the wise disciple is one who is constantly aware of the danger of allowing him/herself to be ‘sucked into’ the general malaise of contemporary society. It is not so much that society is wicked (though it may well be that in certain areas it is) but, rather, that the standards and norms of civil society are regularly at variance with clear Gospel signposts. What shall we do? The resurrection challenges us to bring the Gospel alive in the little worlds in which we live. This is far from being easy or uncomplicated. It is easy to imagine, for example, how difficult it must for a Christian businessman or woman to remain a person of integrity, honesty and truth in dealings with those whose values have been impoverished by constant wheeling and dealing’?
As we are reminded in
THIS SUNDAY’S SECOND READING [1 PETER 2: 20b – 25] “you have been called.” The Lord’s resurrection to new life is, perhaps, the most important call and invitation he ever presented. The resurrection is a challenge to the way in which we live. Peter, in the same reading, makes it clear that there will be a certain discomfort and difficulty (suffering) in constantly ‘doing life’ according to Gospel values. He says, “if when you do right and suffer for it … you have God’s approval.” Here we should be able to remember Jesus’ warnings about the dangers of trying to serve two masters (see MT. 6:24 & LK 6:13). The moment we try to juggle our lives we begin to compromise our Christian integrity. This ‘juggling’ easily becomes a habit. In and with Jesus Christ’s resurrection we RISE to a specific way of life and living – right here on earth. This is our challenge, and it is a constant battle.
All that we have said finds a powerful summary in the opening words of
TODAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 10: 1 – 10]. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in another way, that man is a thief and a robber.”
Now link this with Jesus words a little further on when he proclaims very clearly that “I am the door of the sheep.” Then, at the very end of our extract the Lord proclaims “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” It is totally incorrect to believe that this guarantee refers to heaven. The abundant life the Lord refers to is intended to be applicable to the here and now.
My own abundant life has often been compromised and limited by my little excursions into attempts to climb in another way. It never works of course! I have to enter by the door. Otherwise, I am a gatecrasher and trying to get things on the cheap.
Jesus came into our world twice – at Bethlehem and again in the Garden of Resurrection. The Garden was the result of his refusal to attempt adaptation to the current social trends and climb in another way.
HIS WAY SHOULD BE OUR WAY!