Mass for Sunday 16 December 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
From time to time I quoted a section from the poem, ‘IF’, of Rudyard Kipling, as follows:
“If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of distance run,
yours is the world and all that is in it, and what’s more you will be a man, my son.”
Today I want to take another piece in the poem:
“If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with kings and not lose the common touch, then you will truly be a man.”
What Kipling is teaching us is what John the Baptist is showing us, that we have to be true to ourselves.  John had no illusions:  “I am a voice crying in the wilderness.  The one who is coming after me is far greater than I.”  John had a real sense of his mission and place in life and of what he needed to do to make Our Lord known.
Today we have a very strong invitation to realism about ourselves, to justice, but then to wonder at the coming of the Saviour, to know that we can be changed if we realise who we are, if we humbly know our weaknesses, if we commit ourselves in love to the great One who is coming, the One upon whom the Spirit of the Lord is.  Then we will be the recipients of the good news.
Saint John’s perennial lesson is about what is the centre of life and what is the centre of my life.  He has no illusion.  He must become less and less.  Jesus must become greater.  Not because he is snuffed out, but because his job was to bring people to the realisation of who Jesus was and of how close God is coming to your life and to mine, how valuable your life and mine are and how they need to be touched by Jesus.

When we are baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire, that changes our life.  We have been baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It is only if we say ‘yes’ each day that our life will be transformed and that we will bring hope to the world.  Or to put it another way, if we take the risk and let God guide our life then we do not have anything to fear and we will do great things that we have never imagined.
The good news is that God is near.  The good news is that God transforms.  The good news is that Jesus is all in all.
Cardinal Newman said:  “There is but one right way.  It is the way in which God looks at the world.  Aim at looking at it in God’s way.  Aim at seeing things as God sees them.  Aim at forming judgements about persons, events, changes, objects as God forms them.  Aim at looking at this life as God looks at it.  Aim at looking at the life to come and the world unseen as God does.  All things that we see are but shadows to us and delusions unless we enter into what they really mean.  Let us receive a good will and divine light and spiritual strength, that it may bear fruit within us.”  (J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, v,3)
+ Denis J. Hart,
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