(Saint Bernardine’s Church, Regents Park: Saturday 6:00pm, Sunday 7:30am & 9:00am)
7/8 December 2013
(Readings: Isaiah 11:1-10; Ps 71; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12)
Not so long ago you will recall the incident at the zoo in which the tiger attacked its keeper. We could say that part of the excitement of watching shows in zoos is because we know deep down that – in the natural order – tigers and humans aren’t meant to be in each other’s company – even less humans and crocodiles.
The image painted in the second part of the first reading plays on this idea. Can you imagine a wolf living with a lamb? – probably not! We know what would happen! Would it normally be a happy ending if an infant played near a snake? Or a young child putting its hand into the viper’s lair?
These vivid images painted by the prophet startle us to realize that these strange things are not only possible in the kingdom of God … but are to be expected.
In life we sometimes come across situations where it really seems quite hopeless. You can’t imagine how a person is going to get out of the trouble they’re in. We might say to ourselves, “only a miracle could fix this.” What is a miracle other than a direct action of God in human life? Do we not believe that God acts in our lives? Why wouldn’t we think a miracle is possible? Why shouldn’t we expect God to act?
In our advent season leading up to Christmas, we have the chance to ponder the fact that God truly did act in human life in the most extraordinary way … God took flesh in the person of Jesus Christ … God truly became human. The power of God was seen in the actions of Jesus … the voice of God was heard in him. We shouldn’t think that this action of God ended with the ascension of Jesus to heaven, and then the sending of the Holy Spirit.
The same Word that spoke in Jesus speaks to us, and as scripture tells us, the Word of God is alive and active. That Word disturbs our souls … it makes our hearts restless so that they will seek God who alone can make our restlessness cease. That Word converts people: it makes people turn away from wrongdoing and strive for right-living. That Word sends people as missionaries both near and far; it makes people set up leper colonies or clinics for those with addictions; it causes people to challenge unjust rulers, or to write magnificent and inspiring poetry, or to create images and icons that draw us into the mystery of God (1).
In this time of prayer as we gather for the offering of Mass, let’s each of us reflect on the ways the Word is speaking to us. Is the Word disturbing us, making us realize things in our lives that need to change? In what ways are we hearing the call of John the Baptist to repent? We can ask ourselves: what holds us back from being the best version of ourselves? What situations, beliefs, or past actions need the healing mercy of God to wash over them to cleanse us? In what ways is the Word of God calling you to something new? Some new possibility, some new way of living His will? Is there some way in which the Lord is calling you to be courageous in following him, to truly step out in faith?
When we hear all those questions, we might well say “Bah!” – only a miracle could make that happen. But we need to believe that God works in human hearts. He wants to break through into our lives in His power. He wants to work miracles in your life, in mine! What’s stopping him?
We prepare for the celebration of the coming of God among us by opening our hearts to His power being born in us in our daily lives. May He open our hearts, increase our faith, and make us long for the miracles He wants to work in our lives.
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(1) Aidan Nichols, OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour: A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, Volume 2, The Temporal Cycle: Advent and Christmastide, Lent and Eastertide, Balwyn, Victoria, Freedom Publishing, 2012.