THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Her Doctrine and Morals
Fourth Sunday of Advent
19 December 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Today we hear St. John telling us once again how we are to prepare to receive God into our presence. The time is drawing very near, so we must become ever more attentive and vigilant.
What St. John is telling us is nothing new. We have heard it many times before. Even when St. John spoke these words, they were not new because he was just repeating the prophesy of Isaias.
God is coming to visit His people. What must we do? We must straighten out our lives. We must: bring down the mountains of pride; fill up the valleys of doubt and disbelief; straighten out the crooked ways of lying and deceit; and smooth out the rough ways of our riotous living.
If we continue on just a little further in the prophesy of Isaias, we read: “The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen, because the spirit of the Lord hath blown upon it. Indeed, the people is grass: The grass is withered, and the flower is fallen: but the word of our Lord endureth forever.”
“The people is grass.” The spirit of God has blown upon the people and they have withered up and fallen. How strange, the spirit of God which is life seems to bring the opposite to the people. Could this prophesy be similar to the one that we will later hear the prophet Simeon make concerning Christ. “This Child is destined for the ruin of many”?
We have been told what we must do to prepare for God’s coming. Our Holy Mother the Church has given us this season of Advent to lead us into this spirit and activity. We must through penance tear down the mountains of pride and fill up the voids of vanity; straighten out the crooked ways and smooth out the rough. We understand this well enough, but many – even the majority – will not heed or follow this direction, and so it must be said that these people are grass. God’s presence among them far from giving them life and joy will serve only for these unfortunate souls as a hot dry fire to wither and kill all those that are unworthy.
As God comes to dwell within us, His presence will be destructive of all that is unworthy or unbecoming of Him. The more that we are attached to the things of this world or to our own passions or inclinations the more painful will Christ’s presence become to us. Because His presence will begin to wither and destroy all that is not fitting.
It is not unusual to see or even experience ourselves the sadness that overcomes so many souls in the days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth. It sometimes takes a lot of faith and courage to set aside so many temptations to ruin the joyful occasion for ourselves and others. But, especially the day after Christmas we see that the superficial joy of the season has already disappeared from the hearts and minds of the majority. The decorations are put on the curb and so many of the gifts must be returned, and it is back to the grind of earning our daily bread.
No sooner has Christ come then we push Him away. It seems to me that this can be explained in the scorching pain that God’s presence has upon our guilty conscience and souls. Rather than allow God’s fiery love to burn and purify our souls we would rather chase Him away. Many have experienced this before and now seem to do everything they can to not allow it to happen again. Only they choose the foolish way. They would rather block God’s presence and grace from their lives, than remove that which is offensive to Him and would cause them much pain when His presence is made known to their souls.
This presence of God cannot be avoided forever. The day will come whether we are ready or not when God will make His presence felt upon each and every soul. At that last coming of Christ, His presence will no longer have the same purifying potential as it did during our present lives. Then God’s presence will be an eternal burning pain that will never be quenched. It will cause us to suffer this eternal pain in Hell.
Now is the time to open up our consciences and review the grass that is grown there and welcome the scorching breath of God to purify us of all that is unworthy of Him. As we spend these last few days in preparation to celebrate His birth, let us do all we can for our souls so that He will be welcome in our souls. Let us not fear His presence or the pain it may cause us in stinging our conscience but rather welcome Him and be grateful for this gift of His to us. And let us above all seek to keep Him present within our hearts and minds all year long.