Mass for Sunday 15 December 2013

My dear Friends,

Our world seems to focus particularly on the appearances of public figures in court.  Sometimes the whole fate of a government or a society may depend upon the judgement made about a person and about their testimony.  We wonder, will he tell the truth?  Did he lie or obstruct justice?  Did he encourage others to do so?  Leaders in society may come and go and may be remembered as just or unjust, but there is only one world leader whose words and works have forever altered and redefined the course of human history, that is Jesus Christ.
In this time of Advent we are encouraged to be filled with hope.  The Pope has challenged bishops, priests and people of the Church to bring hope to our confused and suffering world:  “To wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
We have a sound foundation for this hope, since the Lord Jesus himself has promised that he will come and bring about the fullness of the kingdom.  Advent, as we wait for Christmas, is a great chance for us to be trustful and confident in God’s loving care and concern for each and every one of us, even as we wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled. 
But God’s kingdom is not yet fully present in our hearts; we have sins and weaknesses.  Some bible passages show the destruction of the world as we know it; the emergence of John the Baptist as a prophet, the warning that we are living in an imperfect world a very real force.  Last week John the Baptist urged us to repent because the time is drawing near. 
Today’s Readings are very positive.  They give us a glimpse of a future life in God’s kingdom that has already begun because Jesus has come.  Notice these words,
“Go back and report to John what you see and hear:  the blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, deaf hear, dead men are raised to life and the poor have the Good News preached to them.”
Jesus’ deeds of healing remind us that our God is here, he comes to save us.  What do we have to do?  Above all, God’s kingdom will be fully present in people’s hearts when our hearts are open to and one with him.  That is why each of us needs the beautiful Sacrament of Reconciliation, where we can know fully and individually in a personal way the presence of Christ forgiving us, healing us, making us new for the future through the action of the priest.
John the Baptist today asked whether Jesus was coming as a revenger or as a merciful saviour and unequivocally we hear that he comes to save us.  Our God will come and save us.  No matter who we may be we have a need of consciously allowing our lives to be reshaped by Christ.  It has to begin with individual confession because that is the way in which we can open our hearts to him, can know in a way which is very clear and unequivocal his mercy and have the grace which this beautiful Sacrament is meant to give to carry us forward in our daily life after that.  I do urge you to make use of the Sacrament this week and at regular intervals throughout the year.  Our Lord does want to save us.
It is hard at times to persevere in faith and in hope, especially when we do not see our expectations being humanly fulfilled, but that is exactly what God asks us to do.  Neither John the Baptist nor Isaiah saw the full accomplishment of what they had written about in those Readings, yet their message does not falter.  “Be strong, fear not!  Here is your God.”
God does want to come and meet us in Jesus Christ.  The beautiful Sacraments he gave us are a reminder of how real and close in our life is that forgiveness and peace.
Our responsibility today is to nurture within us that gift of hope.  I think we have a special role in our society at present to bring Jesus’ hope and vision, which he has shared with us, of which we are the humble recipients, to other people too.  If we encourage them, if we provide hope, then we will draw them to Jesus and only then will we all cry, “Lord, come and save us.”
+ Denis J. Hart,
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