O come, O come Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
In this second week of Advent we reflect upon the "voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." We call upon the Lord, our God...Emmanuel, God with us. This simple word both humble and divine holds within it the very notion of our salvation. Within this word lies the slavific plan of an all loving Father. The word Emmanuel reflects upon the mystery, which is our Catholic Christian faith, that God in all love and humility would become incarnate...one of us. It is easy to lose sight of this fact. In fact it would seem that now days we as a society are listening to another voice crying out. The voice of materialism. We tend to skip advent all together and go straight into the Christmas season, which is focused on making sure we get the newest and best material items. And while I can say that the spirit of giving is still alive it seems we have almost forgotten why we are giving. We give because we are made in the image and likeness of a God who gives totally of Himself. Advent is a time of preperation. It is a time of reflection. We prepare ourselves and reflect upon the coming mystery of our faith which is the incarnation of God. For Franciscans the idea of the Incarnation is held in a different light than much of the rest of the Church which tends to focus more on Christ's coming to save us from sin, which is part of it but for Franciscans not the main point. I have come to have a greater and deeper love and understanding of this view of the Incarnation. Franciscans believe that God did not become incarnate first and foremost to save us from sin, but instead because He loved us. Even if we hadn't sinned God would have still sent His Son Jesus into the world to be with us, to be present to us. God is constantly giving Himself away and so the 2nd Person of the Trinity bows down to us and gives love away. But as we all know with the taking of the risk to love comes the possibility of rejection. And because God created us free, which is the source of true love, Jesus Himself was rejected by those He loved. "He came to His own but His own did not receive Him. Those who did were given the gift to become sons and daughters of God." This is the gift given to us through the Incarnation. We are shown how to become true sons and daughters of God. We are shown what love is and how we are to love one another. If we focus to much on our sins we lose sight of God. Because our sins are our own, not God's. When we focus only on our sin we become focused on ourselves which is not the point. Our point of focus is God's love and mercy. If we focused more on ways to show God's unending love instead of focusing on sin our lives would become much more whole. God's greatest gift to mankind is the Incarnation. Love made manifest. And so the greatest gift we can give is the gift of love for one another. So how do we prepare for the greatest gift of God's love for us? Do we accept the gift? Do we listen to the "voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths," or do we lose sight of the meaning of Advent and get caught up with the other endless voices around us filling us with distractions from what is most important? I pray that we all may make the rest of this Advent season one of deep personal reflection on what love is and what it means to truly love and who are we maybe being called to love more? Is there someone in our lives we find difficult to love? May you all have a blessed Advent season.
Peace and all good,