Second Sunday of Advent, Year C
1st Reading: Baruch 5.1-9
2nd Reading: Philippians 1.3-6, 8-11
Gospel: Luke 3.1-6 2
I was amused recently by an obituary that read, “With great sorrow, we announce that James has passed into eternal life.”
We cannot help missing our loved ones when they die. But surely we should rejoice when they pass into eternal life!
Indeed, “the joy of the Gospel” – the title of Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium – is that for God’s faithful, “life is changed, not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.”
Moreover, at the end of this world, “we who have been redeemed” by Christ’s death “shall be raised up to the glory of his resurrection.” As Job said, “in my flesh I shall see God.”
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die, but may have eternal life,” St. John said. God the Son became man so that we “might have life, and have it to the full.”
Only Jesus can give us this life. “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” he said. “Whoever possesses the Son possesses life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not possess life.”
St. John said he wrote his Gospel “to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in his name.”
“This is what we proclaim to you,” he said: “the eternal life that was present to the Father and became visible to us. What we have seen and heard we proclaim in turn to you so that you may share life with us.”
God became man, says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so that we might become “sharers of the divine nature”; so that man “might become a son of God”; so that God, “made man, might make men gods”; “so that we might become God” (CCC 460).
“At the heart of the divine act of creation,” said the International Theological Commission, “is the divine desire to make room for created persons in the communion of the uncreated Persons of the Blessed Trinity through adoptive participation in Christ.”
To share in the joy of God’s life is the whole point of being Christian. At every Mass, we pray that “we may come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”
That is the joy Adam and Eve rejected, perhaps unwittingly, when they stopped trusting God for their happiness and tried to achieve it on their own.
However, that rejection is not the whole story. At the end of the world, God will “make all things new,” St. John said. “There shall be no more death or mourning, crying out or pain, for the former world [will have] passed away.”
God will wipe out humanity’s “false start in order that the world may then begin,” says C.S. Lewis. “As when a man lies down to sleep, if he finds a twisted root under his shoulder he will change his place – and after that his real sleep begins. Or as a man, setting foot on an island, may make a false step. He steadies himself and after that his journey begins.”
Until then, we must “prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
This Sunday’s first reading communicates the joy of that message: “Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem, and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God.”
“I am confident of this,” St. Paul says: “that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”
Father Hawkswell is again teaching The Catholic Faith in Plain English in both written and YouTube form at beholdvancouver.org/catholic-faith-course. Session 11, available on YouTube Nov. 28, is “A Place for Science in the Catholic Faith.”
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