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"]
Saint Paul tells us that, as was the case with him, we have “to run the great race … fight the good faith”
(1 Timothy 6:12) – and he tells us that “it is to this we have been called.” There is a paradox within each one of us – simply expressed in THIS SUNDAY’S SECOND READING [1 JOHN 2: 1 – 5a]. There we read that the apostle says he is writing “so that you may not sin; but if anyone does sin” help is at hand. This help is confirmed over and over again in the Easter Season because the Risen Lord is always there as our “advocate with the Father.”
The paradox continues because if we did not
“know him“ then our disobedience in the face of the commandments would not be a matter of importance to us. It is the fact that we DO “know him“ that causes the tension, stress, unhappiness and self-disappointment within us.
We have to run the race and fight the fight. There is no escape. It is in the running and fighting that our
“love for God is perfected.” I prefer the translation which uses the phrase “comes to perfection.” It is a process of becoming something other than we are at any given moment in time.
I suggest that the clue to understanding (and accepting) the paradox is to be found at the end of the
THIS SUNDAY’S FIRST READING [ACTS 3: 13 – 15. 17 – 19ab]. There we read: “repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.” This challenge needs to be heard against some words from TODAY’S PSALM [118 or 117]: “the Lord punished me …. but did not hand me over to death. … his mercy endures forever …. by the Lord has this been done, a marvel in our eyes.” It is indeed a marvel that God-in-Christ continues in our lives to make available the marvel that we are not handed over to death but are able to pick ourselves up, continue running the race and FIGHTING! Is there any other God who offers the same powerful and loving solution to the paradox of being sinner and becoming saint? As the reading from ACTS tells us, “we act in ignorance” when we throw in the towel and scratch ourselves from the race. We must, rather, always “turn again.”
It must be accepted that at the moment of death we l carry some sort of sin within us
. Here, however, the paradox continues because death is nothing more than the passage from life to life. To this we must be witnesses.
THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL [LUKE 24: 35 – 48]
records events that are consequent upon the encounter of the two disciples (who did, indeed, turn again) on the road to Emmaus. We confine ourselves to two thoughts which emerge from the first few lines.
, the two reported back on “what had happened on the road, and how Jesus was known to them in the breaking of the bread.” The KNOX translation, however, renders what had happened as “the story of their encounter on the road.” What had happened would have had to have been an encounter in order for their hearts to have been on fire.
, we read that “as they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them ‘peace to you’.”
The paradoxes involved in our running of the race and fighting the fight are always reconciled in our encounters with the Risen Lord in the Eucharist where we ourselves must
recognise him in the breaking of the bread. Then, we depart Eucharist with and in HIS PEACE.
We must recognise the peace he gives us otherwise the journey on the road becomes too long for us.