Tuesday Reflection

Richard Rohr

No one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. —Luke 10:22

The Second Coming of Christ that history is waiting for is not the same as the baby Jesus or even the historical Jesus. The historical Jesus was one man, and Christ is not his last name. The Christ includes the whole sweep of creation and history joined with him—and you too. We call this the Cosmic Christ. We ourselves are a member of the Body of Christ and the Cosmic Christ, even though we are not the historical Jesus. So we very rightly believe in “Jesus Christ,” and both words are essential.

The celebration of Christmas is not a sentimental waiting for a baby to be born, but much more an asking for history to be born! (see Romans 8:20–23). We do the Gospel no favor when we make Jesus, the Eternal Christ, into a perpetual baby, a baby able to ask little or no adult response from us. One even wonders what the mind is that would keep Jesus a baby. Maybe it was “baby Christianity.”

We might cuddle or coo with a baby, but any spirituality that makes too much of the baby Jesus is perhaps not yet ready for prime-time life. God clearly wants friends, partners and images, if we are to believe the biblical texts. God, it seems, wants adult religion and a mature, free response from us. God loves us as adult partners, with mutual give and take, and you eventually become the God that you love. Take that as an absolute.

I understand where such devotions to the Infant of this or that, the Santo Niño of here or there, came from; but these do not come close to the power of the biblical proclamation that clearly invites us into adult “cooperation” (Romans 8:28), free “participation” (Philippians 3:10) and the love of free and mature persons in God (Ephesians 4:13). You can apparently trust yourself that much because God has done it first and foremost. The Christ we are asking for and waiting for includes your own full birth and the further birth of history and creation. Now you can say “Come, Christ Jesus” with a whole new understanding and a deliberate passion!

 

Reflect

What perceptions of Jesus and Christ do you have that need to be changed?

From the Genesee Abby

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

1st Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2: 1 – 5; Ps 122; Romans 13: 11 – 14; Matthew 24: 37 – 44

There is no such thing as an effortless life, a life without duties, obligations, needs.

We know from experience that marriages, being parents, friendships, religious vocations do not happen by magic, by some kind of automatic dynamism. There must a giving of oneself, of expending energy, and surely a desire to make it work. The same is true when it comes to our Catholic faith, to our living our belief in God – grace is not magic and growth in belief demands our cooperation with God’s gracious love.

The readings for this Mass present calls to action, to make an effort, to move along – Isaiah proclaims, “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain” and “let us walk in the light of the Lord!” St. Paul follows suit: “Let us throw off the works of darkness…let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day…But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” Clearly, all these cannot be dismissed as pious entreaties, take it or leave it  – St. Matthew seems to shout at us: “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…So, you must also be prepared.”  We cannot miss the message that being a Catholic, living as a Christian makes demands and in living these demands, always by God’s grace, gives meaning to our lives – a meaning that is very precious, a reason to not just exist but truly live – living in Christ.

We do find some meaning in life through our interests, our relationships, etc. but the most important, the most necessary, the most life giving is, of course, living in relationship, in communion with our God – this is what the life of faith is about – having a meaning in life that goes beyond life.

In our culture, the culture of death – Pope St. John Paul’s phrase – there are many who live without a really deep, life-giving meaning. How often in the news we are made aware of the suicides – even among the young; people who have despaired, who have found no reason to go on, who sadly discover that what the culture offers are merely band aids and nothing more.

To truly “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” calls for a motivation, a lived desire, it calls for a life with a special meaning.

Where can I, you find this meaning, this important sense? The Lord Himself gives us the way. The disciples have been fishing all night and caught nothing and Jesus sees their frustration so He said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” and so they did. There is always more to the Gospel than what we first hear or read.  This charge is addressed to us: “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” – but has nothing to do with fishing – the deep is the Word of God and the net is my, your desire to personally hear and be touched by the truth – it is this truth that gives meaning, motivation to our lives in following Christ. But you/I have to take the time to really listen, pray, accept – it is not magic. If we take no time, then, in reality, we have no desire!

In lowering my net through prayer, through desire what might I catch – I might come to realize for the first time or the second or the third the enormous love God has more me as I am. A love that was expressed with effort, with steadfastness, with pain. The infant Jesus grew into a man with a most sacred mission – to be our salvation – He met tremendous odds: hatred, misunderstanding, betrayal, plots against His life and finally, He suffered a horrendous death of excruciating pain for our salvation, for love of us. Jesus is truly our Tremendous Lover. Salvation, yours/mine, did not come easily by any means – the crucifix in this church proclaims this profoundly.

You might be familiar with a book “Man’s Search for Meaning” written from the experience in a Nazi concentration camp. The author, a Jewish psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, imprisoned in this place of death, was losing his will to live – there was no hope, no future. One spring day he noticed a sapling in the camp beginning to blossom. The simple sight of new life in this terrible place gave him hope and he lived to tell his experience. If the tree could bud, he could continue on.

Today, in this Mass we see in faith the presence of the Lord Jesus in a piece of unleavened bread not much bigger than the bud on the tree Frankl saw. But for you and I, we not only see but have the privilege of receiving the Lord Jesus Christ, the way, the truth and the life – the source of all our meaning in this life and beyond. We leave this church with meaning, purpose confirmed and strengthened – always people of hope, of faith in our God – surely, during this holy season of Advent we can praise God in gratitude because our net is full!