December 9, 2018

As we continue our adventure into the sounds of God’s covenant, we are invited to the richness of the proclaimed Word of God that is to captivate us during the Liturgy of the Word. On this path we are to meditate, reflect and be inspired by what it says to us.  As we believe in this Word, the confidence of God grows in our hearing.  In the fulfillment of the readings this week we are drawn into glory.  We are challenged to delve deeply in the splendor and glory of God.  To do this we must trust it to be real.

Sounds of Embrace

The Gospel speaks of a timeline, it speaks of what and when things are to take place.  This is an easy sound to identify.  We are guided by lists of things to do in December.  Gifts to purchase, Christmas songs to download, concerts of grandchildren to attend.  We fill the timeline and schedule.  It is the framework.  We even set up alerts and messages to remind ourselves of the important things.  We as a parish send out messages from the app.  We receive reminders on our electronic gadgets. New controls for TV and smoke detectors tell us when the batteries need to be changed.  Reminders are a part of the when and what.  Prioritizing these is the spiritual initiative.  Beyond the timeline a deeper question lingers, what are we to see and hear when we attend?  The Gospel says in this historical time when Caesar and Pilate were in place, when Caiaphas and Annas were high priests, it is then that you are to go deeper and find a single voice.  A radical prophet’s voice that cries out in the desert to prepare.  So beyond the schedule is what is to lead us.  Spiritually we must find that voice. It is this voice that is to become louder in our lives than any other as we prepare.

Covenant that Embraces Us

When we break through to this single voice, when we quiet all others, we are embraced by the triumphant embrace of God.  His love changes the world.  That one voice says every valley is filled and made smooth.  Every mountain and hill is leveled.  This triumph of God makes all things new and equal.  There is now nothing higher or lower, there is no vantage point so some can look down on others.  There is no place for some to have to look up at others.  It is a straight path where all will see the salvation of God.  This covenant brings great rejoicing.  This uplifting news unites us in one vision where all are equal in God’s eyes.  In the First Reading the Prophet Baruch cannot contain himself to tell us of the glory of God.  We must be drawn to the source of that glory, which is beyond this world.  We must allow ourselves to let go of control and power of all kinds and see the majesty of God from His vantage point, which is unconditional love.  The stillness is to invite the depth of our being to go to a place of poverty in our own lives.  I believe this is why I have always been drawn into going and visiting the missions and allowing the missions to impact me.  To know the glory of God finds meaning past the fanciness of our vestments and churches with walls and a roof.  To know that equal in God’s eyes is the parish that has a fence and a slab of concrete with no roof is profound to me.  On our mission trip I saw joy and glory in children who shared their own used paper plates with another child so they too could get a small sandwich to eat and some rice to fill their stomach.  This robe of glory and the splendor of God is not found in jewels and riches but in the joy of knowing someone cares and that someone is God.  In the Philippines we brought a lot, but we didn’t bring much.  We saw a lot, but we didn’t see enough.  We felt a lot, but we weren’t depleted.  The robe of God’s glory is an embrace that is eternal, an embrace that doesn’t come with or without things, but only love, unconditional love.

In this week we are to find that unconditional embrace, but to do that, we must shut out all the other voices that distract us from the sound of that one voice—a voice that cries, a voice that invites, a voice that captivates, because that voice believes.  It is real, it is present and when we find it, a wellspring of glory will overwhelm us.

Reverend John J. Ouper