dimanche, décembre 09, 2007

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent

As much as we progress on our way in Advent, the Church wants us to be prepared for the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord. The Lord shall come to save the Nations, the introit says. Then we pray to the Father: stir up our hearts to prepare the way of Thine only-begotten Son. (Collect of the day) The gospel shows us the example of Saint John the Baptist whose mission was to prepare the way of Christ.
This reminds me of a thought from Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity who said that the life of the priest is an advent that prepares the Incarnation in our souls. The Jews of the Old Testament were hoping for the coming of the Messiah. They had the Law and the Prophets who prepared them for this event. This event occurred two millenniums ago and now we live under the regime of grace as Saint Paul says. But we still have to accept the fact of the Incarnation and to let Jesus Christ dwell in our souls. We have to prepare our hearts to welcome Him. As Elizabeth of the Trinity said again in a beautiful way, we have to offer to Jesus another humanity in which He may renew His whole mystery.

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity: being another humanity for Jesus!

The life of the priest is supposed to help us to do so. His life takes place essentially in the church which is the place of his functions. In the baptistery, he sanctifies the souls marked by original sin and makes them children of God. In the confessional, he exercises the ministry of mercy towards the sinners who often recover their peace and joy after having run away from God. At the pulpit, he instructs the faithful about the truths revealed by God and encourages them to lead holy lives. And finally, at the altar – the highest place – he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is the source of all graces. The priestly acts have one goal: infusing and increasing the life of grace in souls. Such a holy mission requires holy men. Priests are holy by an objective holiness due to the Sacrament of the Order they have received and which places them above other men, which also includes Our Lady. A priest is conformed to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the High Priest. Now, they still have to correspond to this objective holiness by their own holiness. This holiness is not a matter of function, but of love and in this matter, a priest is like every other man.
But as long as a priest continues to perform the priestly acts of his ministry, the divine grace will still be given to the faithful, no matter the personal holiness of the priest. Each priest is a gift from Our Lord that you have to use well. He is the instrument which communicates the grace of God and grace is the condition that permits the dwelling of Jesus in your souls.
So, in preparing the way for the Lord, means going to the priest in order to receive from him Jesus Himself. A priest has nothing else to give but Jesus. This does not mean that you have nothing else to do than go to the church to receive the Sacraments. You still have to receive them with a good disposition of heart which can be obtained only by a life of prayer. Your prayers have to be nourished by your meditation, which should be at least 20 minutes a day, and by spiritual reading that we call lectio divina. There is no way to make progress in the spiritual life without these. But if you persevere in your daily meditation and your spiritual reading, it is impossible for you not to increase the life of grace in your soul.

Jesus wants to dwell in our souls, but He does not force us. With an extreme delicacy, He wants to be the guest of our souls. When you receive a guest that you like into your home, you want to welcome him well and you clean your home, cook good food and give these little attentions that make him comfortable. It certainly requires some effort, but you are so happy when your guest comes and feels so welcome in your home, that you consider your efforts as nothing.
If you want to offer a warm welcome to Jesus, it also requires a lot of effort. But when Jesus finds in your soul a beautiful place where He can dwell, you will consider all your efforts as nothing and you will find peace. It is the peace of Christmas that we can already perceive. When you will be another humanity for Jesus, there will be nothing else that you can desire. Then you will proclaim with Saint Teresa of Avila and all the Saints that God alone is enough.

May Saint John the Baptist, the Patron Saint of our Latin Mass Community of Arkansas, help us to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts! May Our Lady teach us how to welcome Him with a tenderness of love!

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