ADVENT 2020: A SEASON OF JOY IN A YEAR TO REMEMBER
“For unto to us a child is born….”(Luke 2:12)
The DIVINE CHILD, who was born in Bethlehem, is our Savior and came into this world for our salvation .This is why we celebrate Christmas. Through His Loving Sacrifice, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, created a holy foundation for love, joy and victory over our earthly trials and tribulations. Bethlehem, Golgotha, and Easter; the manger and the cross, the birth and death and resurrection must always be seen as a continuous thread tying us to the experience of true spiritual fulfillment and ultimate salvation. By opening our hearts to His Love and following His Commandments, we experience His Peace, the protection of His Power, and enjoy the benefits of His Forgiveness. Every good thing ultimately flows from God’s Love. From His Love there comes light, hope, faith, fortitude, and justice. Those who possess love possess the Spirit of God and those who possess the Spirit of God have in themselves the basis of eternal life. He who possesses a pure heart possesses love and wisdom. He who possesses charity and fortitude can carry whatever cross he may have to bear. Advent is the season (four weeks long) that we bend our knee to the Divine Child. Advent is the expectant beginning of our salvation.
Now let us turn our eyes to the unfortunate events of this year. Historic social distancing pandemic, political and racial polarization and unprecedented fires, hurricanes, and floods all happened simultaneously. In previous lectures we spoke about the election and about the many who look for salvation in and through politics. Victory in political and social matters may make us feel invincible; but if not rooted in God’s word and grace, it cannot last. Despair and disappointment follow close behind. Without God’s peace and prosperity and without the end to suffering, this life is an illusion. The suffering of mankind is in many ways the fruit of our morality or lack thereof. How quickly our society’s recognition of the sanctity of the unborn human life has vanished! How completely the world’s appreciation of the family has disappeared! How incomprehensible it is for gender to be disconnected from biology! The desire to satisfy our disordered passions and create news laws of nature cause us to turn a blind eye to these sins and their social consequences. What about the problem of suffering?
Suffering cannot not always be explained by the principle of retributive justice where each gets what he deserves; immediate punishment for evil-doers and quick reward for the good. We know in this life it is often that the good suffer and it is the wicked who “prosper”.
“Why do the wicked live, reach old age and grow mighty in power? They spend their days in prosperity and in peace they go down to Sheol. They say to God “Depart from us” we do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the almighty to us that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him”? (Job 21: 13-15)
Job was a righteous man, a servant of God who Satan wanted to test. Satan argued that Job was only good because God blessed him materially and abundantly. Job doesn’t understand why so much suffering has visited him, but he keeps his faith and doesn’t curse God as Satan predicted he would. The book of Job is a spiritual masterpiece which explains the problem of suffering of the innocent. It is a distant mirror for looking into what is happening in our own time. Job’s lamentations are the eternal sighs of those who are oppressed and innocent but still are struck. Today, few are as righteous as Job. That is why Jesus came into the world for our salvation.
Modern man has lost his eternal perspective. As a poor substitute, he seeks to escape from the ever-approaching prospect of death by pursuing ceaseless work and activity, or on the other extreme, mind-numbing entertainment and leisure. This activity or non-activity does not satisfy because God has put “eternity in our hearts.’ Like a luminous veil of light, God’s Love penetrates the darkness and hovers over us to guide us back to Him. But an anti-religious culture seek to blind us from this light. The social land-scape and media are increasingly devoted to fear-mongering, anxiety-producing realities like war, terrorism, pandemics and political and social unrest. They want to control the narrative. They want to keep us separated from God, substituting in His place “science and technology”. God is then seen as non-existent, or if He does exist, not capable of helping us with our problems .Once all reference to God is lost, faith and religion are then removed, minimized and ridiculed and the true meaning of human life becomes distorted and lost leading to the down-fall of countless souls.
Spiritual victory comes only to those who fight the good fight, finish the race and keep the faith. We celebrate Christmas to mark the beginning of the Paschal sacrifice; the holy basis for all human love, joy and victory over sin and the trials and tribulations of this life. In this way, the evils and sufferings of 2020 can be put to rest’ love will come into our life, free us from pride ,hatred and error and 2021 and beyond will be filled with the natural peace and joys this life can bring. We always remember that Jesus offers us a path to glory, not a road to comfort.
As knights of Columbus, we put our faith into action through charitable and relief work. In this way we follow Jesus’s footsteps. In this way we become true Christians who seek the glory of God, not our own. “In the world you will have tribulations, but do not fear because I have overcome the world”(Jn.14:27)
December 2020 Wendell Jeanpierre Lecturer