4th Sunday of Advent – When we recognize the calamity of separation from God, the joyful promise of union with him becomes ever more intense- Fr. R

Posted on December 22, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

WDTPRS – 4th Sunday of Advent (2002MR)
Fr. George W. Rutler’s Weekly Letter from Church of Our Saviour, NYC
FROM THE PASTOR December 21, 2008
In his human nature, the infant Jesus in Bethlehem must have cried, as is natural for babies. They cry because of hunger or confusion about surroundings, but psychologists say that they are also learning the meaning of sound—and we know that they find a church’s acoustics particularly fascinating. Thirty-three years after Bethlehem, Our Lord would cry again as he looked at Jerusalem closing its doors and hearts to him.
Hell, which is the fourth mystery of Advent, is the endless closing of intellects and wills to God. The tears of Christ show that he desires that “none be lost and that all should be saved.” Human will, being free, can accept or reject that, and in that exercise is the potential for eternal glory with God or eternal sadness without Him. Presumption is sinful because it denies the risk of Hell, and despair is sinful because it denies the chance for Heaven. Both presumption and despair are symptoms of the primeval infection of pride, because if we make ourselves the sole reference for truth, we are living a lie, and by that lie we cannot objectively measure the power of evil or good. Pride focuses on what we want instead of what we need. When the self becomes selfish, absorbed in the self instead of in God, the path to Hell begins. Newman wrote: “I loved to choose and see my path, but now lead Thou me on! / I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears, / Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.” The Church warns of these perils because Christ has power to save us from them. “My grace is sufficient” (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we recognize the calamity of separation from God, the joyful promise of union with him becomes ever more intense. Our Lord gives us a foretaste of Heaven in the Eucharist, where the altar is the Christmas manger, the Good Friday cross, and the Easter tomb in one perfect unity. The Real Presence of Christ in his Church saves us from the Real Absence, which is Hell. God “infuses” us with the virtues of faith, hope, and love, as intimations of Heaven. To reject them, as Jerusalem was deaf to the cries of Christ, is to acclimate oneself to the temper of the opposite of Heaven, where there is no faith because the self trusts only the self, and no hope because the self cannot see beyond the self, and no love because the self desires only the self. Saint Bernard says we should love God for the help he gives us, but better yet for the delight he gives us, and best of all just because he is God. That third and highest love casts out all fear: “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one; I died, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hell” (Revelation 1:17-18).
Vultus Christi
Ave, Maria, gratia plena

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