God Never Forgets about Us

Dec 10, 2017: 2nd Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalms 85:9-14
Second Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

All of us have experienced pessimistic moments. Sometimes we experience pessimism because no matter what we do we can’t seem to avoid suffering; painful things just keep happening to us and those we love. Sometimes we experience discouragement because we can’t seem to avoid sin; we just keep falling into the same patterns of greed, lust, impatience, and laziness. Sometimes we experience pessimism when we look at society and see so much that is wrong, so much injustice, degradation, and violence.

Today, as we start the Second week of Advent, God has something to say about discouragement, and cynicism.

He is saying that pessimism, discouragement, cynicism will all come knocking at your door, but do not let them in!

Do not let yourself be afraid, because I am your Lord and Savior, and I have not forgotten about you!

This is the message of the Gospel, where we hear St John the Baptist’s voice ring out with hope in the wilderness of pessimism: the Lord is coming! Of Isaiah, who preaches comfort to God’s sinful people, reminding them that He is like a shepherd who gathers the lambs of His flock (us) in His arms. Of the Second Reading: even if it seems that God is absent, has forgotten about us, or is powerless to help us, we know that He is simply waiting for the right moment to send in His grace. For God, a thousand years are like a day, St Peter reminds us, and a day is like a thousand years; what seems like a long wait for us is in reality just the blink of an eye.

Advent is our yearly reminder that God has not forgotten about us, no matter how we may feel.

In fact, He never stops thinking of us, loving us, and He is leading us with care to our everlasting reward.

God’s tireless attention to us is shown forth powerfully in the lives of the saints, who are always striving to seek out the lost sheep and tend to the needs of those around them.

St Louis IX, King of France in the thirteenth century, is a perfect example. People still consider his 52-year reign to be one of France’s most golden ages. He understood that God had not made him King so that he could enjoy himself, but rather so that he could show forth God’s goodness to his people. He used to walk through the streets of his cities distributing alms by the handful. He would go into the hospitals and homes for the dying and nurse the worst cases himself. He would sometimes invite twenty homeless people whose filth and stink disgusted even the soldiers of his guard to his own royal dinner table. Once when he was outside, he heard the distant rattle of a leper, which was a warning to stay away from the afflicted person. However, St Louis walked directly towards the sound instead of away from it, and embraced the hideously deformed man. He gave special attention to the administration of justice, introducing lasting reforms in the legal system. His biographer even tells about how he would sometimes leave morning Mass and go outside under an oak tree near the edge of the woods. There He would stay all day to hear complaints and cases of the common people, administering justice quickly and fairly so that they didn’t have to invest time and money in following the complex court procedures. He was always present to his people, because he had discovered that God was always present to him.

God is present to us as well, always waiting for us under the oak tree.

God has not forgotten about us, and He never will.

Knowing this, St Peter asks in today’s Second Reading, “What sort of persons ought you to be?”

Pessimistic, and discouraged? Not at all!

St Peter gives us two qualities that should mark the life of every Christian.

Going to the next level in these two qualities should be our spiritual project for Advent.

First, St Peter says that holiness should mark our lives. The Greek word is “anastrophe,” and it refers directly to our behavior, to how we act. Holiness does not mean that we go around with our heads in the clouds; holiness means that we go around as Christ went around, treating other people with sincere respect, and looking for opportunities to do good to those around us.

Second, St Peter says that devotion should mark our lives. The Greek word is “eusebia,” and it refers not to our actions, but rather to the fundamental attitude underlying our actions. This should consist of joyful reverence towards God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Guide in all things. Devotion is not just a matter of saying a lot of prayers; it is a matter of living at all times in a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ; that is what prayer is meant to foster. To make that possible is the reason Jesus came to earth in the first place.

In this Mass God will give us yet another reminder that He has not forgotten about us.

When He does, and when He comes to nourish our souls in Holy Communion, let’s ask Him to show us how, this week, we can grow in holiness in our interaction with others, and grow in devotion in our relationship with Him.

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