Warm welcome to Fr Patrick Fitzgerald, CP, who is joining St Joseph’s Community. Many will recall him as Curé at St Joseph’s, 2004-2008. Welcome back among us.
Thoughts of Aidan Troy [Passionist]
Another liturgical year begins this weekend! These beginnings seem to come more quickly the older I get. The message of Advent doesn’t change. But I do in many ways. All human life is blessed with change and with new challenges from the hands of God.
For the first two weeks of Advent, we will remember in prayer that we are waiting for the Second Coming of Christ. There is a sense in which it is easier to wish it could be Christmas every day with Santa arriving to those who have been good! But there is more to life than this.
The Second Coming of Christ does not have a date on it. Only God knows this. That He will come is revealed to us by Christ. The Chosen People spent their prayer time and their lives watching for the Messiah to come. They hoped that He would restore their nation to greatness and that they would live happily ever after.
The sad part is that when the Messiah did come, so many did not recognise Him. He was born to a young Mary before she married Joseph. The Birth came when they went to Bethlehem for the census. He was born in a stable with shepherds as the first worshippers. Angels sang from the heights and Mary and Joseph’s joy can scarcely be imagined. The Magi who from the East brought gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The story gets sinister. The Messiah is born and a death threat against Him is made by Herod. The creator the redeemer is now a refugee in Egypt. If it wasn’t the revealed Word of God, the story might even seem too far-fetched for a novel.
This is not a novel. It is our history of salvation in which we have a place. He came to us for one reason. We needed to be redeemed and it is only God who could do that. Love was the inspiration. for this This is the heart of Advent and Christmas.
What concerns me is that if the Chosen People did not recognise the Messiah, is it possible for me to miss God in my life? This is not as strange a suggestion as it might appear at first sight. The face of God is on the face of people I meet every day. You carry His face to me and dare I say it, I show His face to you. The traces of God’s footsteps are found in the footprints of those who help the vulnerable, who protect children and look after the outcast. The heart of God is beating with intense love in the heart of all who love sincerely.
Advent is the time that recalls to us that the return of Christ is not only a future event but has already started. The veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom once the horror of Calvary was ending. The veil between this world and that of the Kingdom of Heaven no long blocks our vision completely.
Every time we gather to celebrate Mass, we have a direct link to Jesus and to the Kingdom that is being formed here on earth which will continue into eternity. Every time we pray, we pierce the clouds and touch the throne of God. Every time we reach out to assist another, we touch the Body of Christ. The Crucified Jesus never forgets the crucified on earth nor distances Himself form any suffering.
From time to time we are asked to put Christ back into ‘Christmas’. This may be well-intentioned. For what it’s worth, I believe that Christ never leaves Christmas. Without our Saviour being born in loving hearts, we have an enjoyable mid-winter festival but neither the depth nor beauty of remembering the Birth of the Saviour. We now prepare for His second coming.
As sure as is my belief in the First Coming of Christ, is my belief in His return. It will be great; it will be Christ with us forever, Emmanuel. Maranatha Come, Lord Jesus.