Friday, December 23, 2011

According to Your Word - December 23rd of the Advent Season

(Image of the Advent wreath is from ImageVine/courtesy of All rights reserved.)

(Mal 3:1-4, 23-24; Lk 1:57-66)

Advent is the Church’s “privileged time” to focus on Jesus, Emmanuel– “God-With-Us.” It is God's story of coming to us in the concrete reality of Jesus Christ. It’s the story of God bending down in love to embrace our fragile humanity and to bring us into unity with the divine love. Advent is about God’s Word become flesh and our reception of it— God’s intervention, a most noble work, in the lives of His people.

When the young and impressionable Francis of Assisi first heard the word of the Crucified say to him: “Rebuild my house, as you see it is fallen into ruin,” he immediately took mortar and stone and went about the task of rebuilding. As his relationship with the Lord grew and deepened over time, contemplation on that word revealed to him to rebuild his heart that had fallen into ruin.

St. Bonaventure tells us that God has come to us in a loving and personal way, making Himself visible and audible, so that seeing and hearing, humanity could once again be united to God and contemplate Him. (Bonaventure, “Vigilia nativitatis Dominus,” IX, 1O3a). By God’s grace and mercy, He has given us a capacity for a single-hearted relationship with Him, but it has been covered over with other things. Our Scripture readings for today remind us that this is the “privileged time” to clear away the clutter in our hearts and make room for the Word to be born within— a truly noble work— to be a dwelling for the Lord. For the One who has created the universe has called us to be intimately in relationship.

God bending over, embracing us, bringing us into unity—divine intervention, obscured in Advent darkness within us and around us. Let it come to light now in re-kindling and rebuilding our relationship with the Lord and with others. Forgiveness given, forgiveness received— a most noble work for the rebuilding of all things especially the human heart. Then “the Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter His Temple.” (Mal 3:1).

– Fr. Christopher Panagoplos, T.O.R.