Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday.
Bendigo TAFE is in the midst of a building boom all under the banner of excellence in the Education State. One Campus has a sign “Food and Fibre Excellence Centre.”
We rejoice this Sunday, for several reasons. Christmas is just around the corner, and with that fact our history reminds us that we will celebrate the birth of Jesus. Others rejoice for school has ended, some, too, for it is holiday season.
This gift of the loving God has given rise to many customs designed to honour the event, including the offering of gifts to one another. That action has largely been overtaken by commercial motives, which seek more and more sales whatever the reason. The continual presentation of the failures of leadership, has not only embarrassed the people of God, but has clouded our presentation to the world of the true purpose of our beloved faith. The God who first revealed his glory on Mount Sinai, now gifts us again in giving us his Son. After all, only the Son has ever seen God! However, as we tell the story of the Son, we will learn the story of God’s loving action within the human story.
Our source of food and fibre…the liturgy celebrating Eucharist and the Word in the scriptures will surely be our source of excellence and enable us to change our world as the early Christians changed their times. We need to represent these truths in proper language appropriate to our times, a task undertaken successfully on many occasions in the past.
So, despite the hubris and flotsam and rubbish, nonetheless, we should rejoice and shout loudly:
” Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.”
Second Sunday in Advent. Year B. 10 December 2017
O Jerusalem! O Parliament!
Decisive action in and about both places. Lives will change, and decisions will be questioned. Jerusalem has been on the agenda for 3000 years for the Mediterranean world and the great monotheistic faiths. Greatly ignored by the rest of the world for much of that time. If we survive for another 3000 years, I wonder what will be written about Thursday’s events in Canberra.
Against that we are called to “prepare a way for the Lord”.
The scholars tell us that Mark’s Gospel was not written to prove that Jesus was “the Son of God “nor simply to give us biographical information about Jesus. Rather, it was an attempt to engage the readers and listeners in the unfolding story of Jesus. Crucifixion did not kill the story, let alone the reality of who he was and, further, what He continues to do, if only we let Him act in our lives. We need to be caught up by His message, hence the call to “Prepare” and allow ourselves to be challenged to believe that the powers that seek to destroy His legacy will not prevail.
The call to “Prepare” is age old in our faith tradition. Down the ages, various props have arrived to assist – Advent wreaths, Advent calendars, cribs, Jesse Trees, even Christmas trees and carols. All have served us well, but in an age as I saw in Singapore recently, “Fresh Christmas trees, direct from the USA”, one ponders the continuing relevance of such symbols. We, of course, can make the symbol truly relevant by preparing.
In a sense we need to “Speak to the heart of Jerusalem” and be prepared to “Go up on a high mountain” and be a “joyful messenger to Jerusalem” and to announce once again ” Here is your God.”
Make those symbols come alive this week.
We begin again!
The Year of Mark.
As many have noticed, Mark is shorter in words and a little more blunt in ideas. “Stay Awake” (or as a close long-term friend said to me this night, and now suffering in the hospice, “Francis, give me an exit plan”). In one sense, we begin to discover our Christian Exit Plan this weekend. Yet again, it will take 52 weeks to explore, but each time we set out on the journey, some things will strike us in a way that we never considered before.
Most challenges will be very similar. Wars and rumours of wars, suffering, illness and death to be coped with. Revelation of scandal, bribery and corruption. Stories of rape, murder and brutality. And the list goes on and on.
Against this, the broader thrust of Mark 13 was to remind the community that there was hope. It had been delivered to them in the suffering and death of Jesus. This meant that the world can be transformed. As the Pope remarked to the people of Myanmar “Conciliation, not revenge, is our way.” It is the destiny of all people to reign with Jesus in glory. This gave Mark’s people a horizon of hope with which to measure their current sufferings. If they “stayed awake”, such vigilance would help them to find significance and ethical direction in their actions in the present.
It is true that as Isaiah wrote
“No ear has heard, no eye has seen any god but you act like this for those who trust him.”
The command to be on your guard and to stay awake will surely help us to discover our Exit Plan.
Welcome to Advent 2017.