Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Blog # 212 Advent - b

Blog # 212  Advent - b

               In our Catholic experience of  faith we claim for God our Creator the power that wills the earth to be constantly spinning at a rate of more than a thousand miles an hour at the equator and to move in its orbit at a rate of 1,500,000 miles each day as it travels around the sun . In Advent we prepare to celebrate and respond to another power of God even more wonderful and mysterious than the physical power that moves the earth and stars.

               It is the power, shared with us by faith, that enables us to discover and to love God as our Creator, the power to pray, to receive forgiveness for our sins, to love and be kind even to our enemies, to believe in life eternal, to hope to be worthy of everlasting peace and joy beyond the grave, and the power to rejoice in the transforming new life  that comes to us in Baptism.

                In part I can imagine, because it is so dependable, we can take the power that rules the movements of the earth and stars for granted. Yet we can do nothing but marvel at it when we stop to reflect upon it. So it is we can take for granted the marvelous multifaceted power that comes to us through faith in Jesus.

              Advent presents an invitation for us to step back and reflect again upon our life and the powers God invites us to receive in our identity with Jesus through faith and Baptism. It is a time to grow in our knowledge and love for God through growing in our knowledge and appreciation of ourselves as Christian believers.

            We grow intellectually as we increase our treasury of information. It works like this. First we want to be able to recognize letters of the alphabet. Then we want to be able to make words by combining the letters we have learned. Then we want to be able to read the comic strip in the daily paper, then the editorial, then the text book in our science class. Then we want to be able to combine our words in such a way they become a message from our inmost heart, telling someone we love how much this is so. Then perhaps prose is not enough and we want to write a poem. All of it is connected as we grow as a person.  All of it begins and is  based upon the very first knowledge we attained about the letters of the alphabet .

             This is just an illustration and reminder of something that is true of growth in other fields as well as grammar and language. It is true of math medicine and theology. The more questions we have the more information will be ours, and the more opportunity we will have to grow.

              Here is one way it applies. We are driving north on I-95. We stop and eat at Shoney's. We have spaghetti and meat balls and a salad. It costs $ 4,25, the price for seniors. It is one PM. We finish our meal and are on our way. That is the physical part of it. It could be the same for someone other than ourselves. Now for the question of the value of what is going on. We are very tired. We had a short night's rest and a long drive to arrive at Shoney's. We are still a long way from New Jersey. No one else in the restaurant knows what it is costing us to make this trip but we are very willing and happy to be paying that price because of the value we have placed on the goal of the trip. We are going to spend Christmas with Grandma. She is 91 now and that has something to do with the value of  our heading north on I-95.

Some of the people in Shoney's will not even notice us. We will be visible but not seen by all. They will not ask us if  we are tired or happy. They will never know. We will not make any difference to them. Our relationship to one another will not grow beyond the physical one of being in the same restaurant at a particular time of a particular day.

                 Now look at it another way. Suppose I never ask questions of myself ? As a result I might not ever  know who I really am. We, the inner person present in each of us, would never make much difference to the body that is mine. My relationship to my daily human experiences will not grow beyond the physical awareness of being hungry tired hot cold comfortable existing in some particular place at some particular time, changing by way of growing in age, but not in meaning purpose wisdom and goodness. How sad that would be!

            Unfortunately, most of the influence upon our daily lives at the present moment in history here in the US seems to encourage just such a situation. How many ads on TV encourage us to grow beyond the physical possibilities that are open to us? How much emphasis do you think would be placed upon Christmas if it were not a money-maker? Who cares whether the tremendous number of men and women in prisons around the country right now are happy as long as they are kept from causing trouble on our streets? Who is bothered by the fact and the consequences of the fact the average chief executive officer of a large American Company made forty times the wage of an average worker in the Company two decades ago and now he or she sometimes makes a hundred ninety times a worker's salary ? Advent is a time of questions, a time of growth. Who am I?  What am I doing, physically, intellectually spiritually? Is there any change going on in my life? What really matters to me?  In what direction am I going? Jesus comes to help with the answers.

           The infant of Christmas will grow up and proclaim  for  himself  the title Good
 Shepherd.  He will tell us he came that his sheep may have life and have it to the full.  ( Jn 10: 10).  He will tell us that as the Father loved  him he loved  us so that his joy may be ours and our joy may be complete.  ( Jn  15: 9, 11).  In these two texts taken together I hear Jesus telling us,as one of us, that  he knows  and acknowledges the goodness and value of our human natural joy but knows too and proclaims this joy is designed to be completed with the supernatural joy Jesus knew as the Father's beloved Son so that through the gifts of faith and Baptism the Father could indeed love us and all people throughout the world as He loves Jesus. That is the love that is rooted in Christmas and blossoms in the Resurrection of Jesus.  It is our story through faith in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit!  

         Is a greater awareness understanding and appreciation of God Our Father's unique love 
  for you in Jesus His Beloved Son among the gifts you desire to receive receive this Christmas?  Be on the lookout for it.  It will be wrapped in faith, trust, and freedom.                                        

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