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Second Sunday in Advent, Dec. 4, 2011 (2AdvB)
By Father Cusick
"O come, o come, Emmanuel."
"But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Gal 4:4-5) This is "the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God": (Mark 1:11) God has visited his people. He has fulfilled the promise he made to Abraham and his descendants. He acted far beyond all expectation - he has sent his own "beloved Son." (Mark 1:11) (CCC 422)
The Catechism beautifully expresses what we anticipate and celebrate in this Advent season. We take special efforts in liturgy and life to prepare ourselves anew to receive our Lord in the commemoration of his birth in a fitting spiritual way as we answer the call of John the Baptist to "Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path." We also mark the historical birth of Christ in a continuing witness of the historicity of our faith. What we recite in the Creed did indeed really and truly take place.
We believe and confess that Jesus of Nazareth, born a Jew of a daughter of Israel at Bethlehem at the time of King Herod the Great and the emperor Caesar Augustus, a carpenter by trade, who died during the reign of the emperor Tiberius, is the eternal Son of God made man. He "came from God," (Jn 13:3) "descended from heaven," (Jn 13:3;6:33) and "came in the flesh." (1 Jn 4:2) For "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father...And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace." (Jn 1:14, 16)(CCC 423)
Many movies and television shows treat the subject of faith and the supernatural. Some books purport to be "autobiographies" of God, some seek to remake Jesus Christ as a sinful human being, denying His divinity. Some of the most popular entertainment denigrates the authentic Christian faith and attacks the Church. It is often the case that when a religious figure or authority encourages Christians to avoid buying or reading certain books or viewing certain films that are inimical to the faith, there is a public outcry against "book banning", and fear-mongers dredge up images of a rebirth of the inquisitions or book burnings.
For those who understand that salvation comes through faith, and that the faith must be loved, cherished and protected, it just makes good sound sense to avoid books, films and any influences that would deny or undermine what we know to be the truth. What good could come of reading a book which denies the Son of God existed, that he knew who he was, that he rose from the dead? What of a movie that denies the need for faith, that attacks Christ's Body, the Church, or commits sacrilege against the Sacrifice of the Mass? St. Paul teaches in one of his letters, "say only the good things men need to hear." Our Lord reserved his most severe condemnation for those who scandalize the faith of the weak. It is for these reasons that we seek out those things which feed and nourish our faith, and reject or avoid those things which are destructive or corrosive of our faith.
The first and ordinary means of growing in the Faith is our encounter with Christ in Word and sacrament. In the liturgy, the source and summit of our Christian life, we have the highest source of the upbuilding of the kingdom within us and within the communio of our Catholic Church.
Active participation in the Mass helps us to avoid experiencing it as an empty ritual. Begin or renew the practice of the prescribed postures for the Mass, for these are practical means of entering more deeply into the Paschal mystery fully present in the Eucharistic sacrifice. These include, (1), a bow of the head at the holy names of Jesus, the three persons of the Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saint of the day in whose honor the liturgy is offered; (2), a profound bow at the words: "by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man" in the Creed; (3) the striking of the breast at the words "that I have sinned through my own fault" in the Confiteor; and (4), the "strongly recommended" sign of reverence, such as the genuflection while in procession to receive Communion or kneeling to receive the Body of Christ.
By our actions as well as our words we show our sincerity as we pray "O come, O rod of Jesse's stem; O come, O come Emmanuel." Let us grow more profoundly in our desire for the coming of the Lord in the liturgy that we may be found acceptable on the great day of His coming in glory.