Advent is a word that means arrival. It begins another year when we Christians commence again to celebrate the whole mystery of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. The season culminates with the celebration at Christmas of his arrival in our world.
A Sense of God
Someone was reading from Gerard Manley Hopkins on the car radio. I was struck by the poet’s description of the contrasting attributes of God’s beauty as I listened to the words “swift, slow; sweet, sour, adazzle, dim” (Pied Beauty).
Many have lived through wars and rumours of war, have seen nation rising against nation. We’ve heard about earthquakes, famines and plagues. My mother told us long ago that these things would be signs that the end of the world was near.
“Is there a hereafter?” is a common or garden question. But there is no common or garden answer to it. Reason and science have nothing to offer about life after death, and tell us that there is no evidence for it one way or the other.
Jericho was a desirable place to live in. Warm and dry, it had good and well-watered land, and many vineyards and orchards which were owned by the rich and worked by the poor. A veritable tax collector’s dream place. Luke’s Jesus didn’t mince his words when condemning the rich, especially those who exploited the poor. Like tax collectors – cf. Luke 6:24-26.
Harry grew up in a well-to-do family in California and shared his story with me one morning. It began with him hanging out with the ‘wrong’ crowd at school. They were in a gang and did drugs. Guess what Harry began to do? He liked not only the taste of drugs, he wanted money and found himself in petty criminality. He ended up in prison after bludgeoning someone in a fight. Only then did he wake up to see how life had been carrying him along like a leaf on a river.
Jesus’ parable about the Pharisee and the Tax-collector at prayer is offered as a litmus test to the honesty of prayer. The Pharisee used twenty-nine words to pray, while the taxman used only six. The Pharisee’s prayer was long, complex and self-centered; The taxman’s was short, honest and God-centered.
Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity- Discalced Carmelite – will be canonized 16th October.
Elizabeth was born on July 18th 1880 at the army camp in Avor near Bourges in France, where her father was a captain. She was baptised four days later on the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, a fact which she treasured. When she was 2½ her sister Marguerite, known as Guite, was born. Elizabeth’s father died when she was only seven years old. By this time the family was living in a camp in Dijon, but after the captain died, they moved into a flat. Elizabeth could see the Carmel of Dijon from her bedroom window. She was very high spirited and given to fiery outbursts of anger when things did not go her way. In 1891 Elizabeth received her First Holy Communion and it made a deep impression on her. From this time on the Eucharist became the centre of Elizabeth’s life and it gave her the strength and determination she needed to make a real effort to overcome her rages.
Job, blameless and upright and fearing God, cursed the day he was born, the day they said, “It’s a boy!” Our culture tells us that suffering is useless and has nothing whatever going for it. Not so, says our Christian tradition, not so. Christianity sees beyond, hopes beyond and believes beyond that which is immediately experienced here and now.
John and Mary took their six-month old daughter to church for baptism. Back in the house at the reception John was over the moon with excitement about his first-born, Holly, and told me he wanted to grow up “before it is too late.”