Many years ago the atheistic existentialist philosopher, Albert Camus, as a young man of eighteen was walking down the main street of Algiers in North Africa. He and his friend came across a crowd of people gathered in a circle around a mom and her wounded little son. A truck had run over the boy and the poor mother was wailing as she was holding on to her bleeding boy. Camus watched the scene silently for a while and then moved on. After a slight pause, Camus pointed an accusing finger towards the sky and then reprovingly declared to his friend: “Look, heaven is silent!” One of the strongest objections to the belief in God has been atheists’ claim that God is too far away or too quiet in our suffering and pain.
The message of our Christian faith asserts the opposite. Our God is neither silent nor distant. Out of love for sinful humanity, God decided to become one of us. He assumed our human nature and became one with us in all things but sin. He did not only come close to us; He became one of us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. As John writes in the prologue, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
Pope Leo the Great explained the mystery eloquently:
Invisible in his own nature he became visible in ours. Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp. Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death.
When Mary bowed her head in submission to the good news from Archangel Gabriel, she ushered in the final chapter of the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants. When the Second Person of the Holy Trinity made His home in the womb of the Virgin Mary, Salvation History rushed towards fulfillment. That is why Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans: “For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
Writing about the coming of the Redeemer, St Cyril of Jerusalem calls our attention to the two comings of Christ. He says: “In his first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in the manger. In his second coming he is clothed with light as with a garment. In his first coming he bore the cross, despising its shame; he will come a second time in glory accompanied by the hosts of angels.”
As we enter into the advent season, I encourage all of us to prepare for the coming of our Savior. In addition to the things we have done in the past, this year we will have a Marian Prayer Service on Tuesday, December 6th at 7:30 pm. By praying together we not only honor Mary, the blessed one among women, but also prepare ourselves for the coming feast of Christmas. Who was better prepared for the birth of the Savior than His own mother? During the service we will meditate on the way Mary submitted herself completely to God’s design. Our prayer will conclude with Benediction.
If the Lord is near, then what should we do? In his Letter to the Philippians Paul gives us the answer: “Rejoice! Rejoice in the Lord always because the Lord is near.” No matter what problems assail us, what burdens weigh us down, we can go forward because we are not alone. God is with us. God has become one of us. Let us spend this season in joyful hope.
Here are some concrete ways we can prepare ourselves:
Find time for prayer.
Pick up the Bible and read it meditatively.
Write personal notes to your family and friends.
Listen to sacred music.
Read an inspirational book.
Look at the stars.
Lend an attentive ear to another person’s troubles.
Listen to the singing of the birds.
Spend time in Church.
Don’t miss a Sunday Mass.
Go to a weekday Mass.
Hear His footsteps.
See His face.
Sit in His presence.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...