In Advent as we prepare for Christmas, as we read of St John the Baptist preparing the way for the Messiah, we hear...what? Reflections on prayer? Reflections on how to prepare to remember Christ's coming as a little child and to remember that He will come again, for we know not when the hour is at hand? Reflections on drawing closer to Our Lord in Advent, in preparation for Christmas, in preparation for His second coming, in preparation for a renewal of faith and love and hope?
Well, yes, we do hear of preparing ourselves for Our Lord, we do hear of spiritual preparation and of sharing His Love with others.
On the other hand, we also hear voices of contradiction, voices calling us not to more prayer but to social action. Alone. Voices even denigrating spiritual preparation during Advent.
From secular sources, you say?
Or from some within the Church?
We hear that, when St John the Baptist sent his followers to Jesus, to discover the identity of Jesus, to establish to others that Jesus was the Messiah , Jesus' reply was about helping the blind see, the lepers be cleansed and so forth and that Jesus " did not say a word about people praying more..or making God the centre of their lives...The age of the Messiah does not concern religion in the traditional sense of the word. One knows that the Messiah has come because a real change has taken place in society, a change that involves a liberation of those who have always been cut off from the main branch of society."
And no, I didn't read this at heresy dotcom ( to steal a quote from a friend!).
I read this in what should be a reliable source for the faithful in our parishes..
And it is wrong.
Christ did indeed promise liberation, and at first His disciples thought He was to provide societal or temporal liberation, the liberation of revolutionaries. Instead, Christ brought about spiritual liberation..a transforming of self, a call to follow Him and Our God, a call for interioral and then exterioral change.
Christ's words echo the prophesies of Isaiah, words that gave the Israelites hope that their Messiah would come, words that showed without doubt that He was the much awaited Messiah. Prayer was not excluded. Prayer and adoration and transformation of self were givens.These words were signs of His identity, signs that should make those awaiting their Messiah, signs that should make us, fall on our knees and pray in adoration.
The real change is that by His coming, we are given hope and life. We experience true, unconditional love ( He emptied himself, taking the form of a man) . We are transformed interiorly and this spiritual transformation effects a change in society, as we share His love with others.
No, we can't, I'm sorry. Not even metaphorically or for a literary, dramatic touch. Not when we are sharing Sunday Reflections for the faithful. If anything, these reflections need to be clear and unambiguous. The arena for theoretical and philosophical ruminations, for literary technique and analysis, is not a parish bulletin. It is the stuff of journals, of papers, of discussion forums.
Or even of blogs.
In Advent, as we prepare for Christmas, we should prepare.
Pray. Go to Mass. Go to Confession. Do penance. Do some extra spiritual reading. Celebrate and live the liturgical year.
Love and share this love with others.
The message is simple.
Living the life is not so simple, in an often secularised world. And we, the faithful are helped to live the hidden life of adoring and serving Our Lord, where we are, by the sacraments, by God's Grace and by good teaching. And not by contradictions in what should be reliable Catholic sources.