Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Sunday Readings

Second Sunday in Advent; Cycle C, December 9, 2018

Readings: Baruch 5.1-9; Philippians 1.4-6, 8-11;  Luke 3.1-6
God’s Word is the source of our life with God. 
God, the Father, speaks through the Word and we are created.  God acts through the Word made flesh and we are redeemed. 
God speaks the Word in Sacred Scripture and we are enlightened in the Holy Spirit. 
God's light is life because it opens us up to the Source of all life, the only Begotten Son of the Father.
The Gospel Reading tells us: The word of God was spoken to John, Son of Zachariah in the desert.   The spiritual life that Christ brings, does not come essentially from our own created nature, which is beautiful and good in itself, but at the same time is wounded and damaged by original sin and by our sinful conditioning.  We have to deny own sense of self as the center of our power.  We have to become open to the Word of God, to the Word who is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the One for whose appearing we long.  It is the Word, not the independent  self, that redeems and enlivens us. 
The desert experience opens us to the word of God as it did in the case of John the Baptist.
The goal of the desert experience in our spiritual journey is an interior environmental clean-up job.  In varying degrees we have had an oil spill within our consciousness.  We are stuck and smeared in the oil of our self-centeredness. 
The purpose of the desert discipline of our spiritual ancestors has been our becoming obedient to God’s work within us through the word of God. 
We need silence, solitude, simplicity, and prayer so we can allow God to enter into us through His Word in the words of Sacred Scripture.  Slowly, patiently, bit by bit, the clean-up job and the restoration continue as we allow the word of God to penetrate our souls.
John can more perfectly receive the word of God because he is in the desert where there are less distractions to his spiritual focus. 
Physically we may not be in the desert; but spiritually we are in the desert by our cooperation in allowing God to prune away the hypocrisy and self-centeredness that cling to us.  No frills, no silliness, no fads, and no clinging to man-made cultural distractions are allowed to interfere with John’s union with God.  As Jesus said of John: "What did you go out in the desert to see?  A reed shaking in the wind….A man clothed in soft garments?"
The word of God that John preaches gives us the doorway into God’s Kingdom: He went about the region of the Jordan proclaiming a baptism of repentance which led to the forgiveness of sins.
In fact, much of the time, our prayer is a desert.  We experience dryness and the on-rush of the ever-present thoughts.  It is at these moments we can enter the desert.  We accept in silence all that seems to militate against the peace we seek.  The silence of the desert in prayer is part of the path of repentance, of letting go of the influence of imagination (identified by St. John of the Cross as the obstacles to entering divine repose).
The first part of the Gospel Reading deals with the ancient way of dating events by using the names and titles of the rulers at the time of the event. 
Our spiritual practice is based on historical facts. 
Our spiritual practice is not divorced from the reality of God's revelation in history. 
Our practice is not the product of mythology and religious psychology.  Sacred Scripture is not even theology in the academic sense. 
If we hold the objective reality of Christ’s redemption before us and refuse to see it as myth but as event, we then weaken our obsession with own consciousness of self as the source of our reality.  The engine of our egoism must not become the source of our spiritual life. Our life of the spirit flows from the Reality of God’s intervention in the history of the human family at a certain time and place in this particular Man, Jesus Christ, Son of God, of divine and human natures, one divine person.
Let us pray for the intentions enumerated by St. Paul in the Second Reading: first, that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience; and second, that you may be found rich in the harvest of justice which Jesus Christ has ripened in you.
We continue in the great hope of advent, the new beginning, the door opening to “the wealth of experience” which is the coming of Jesus among us.  This is the experience: union with Him in the Spirit through the loving Father.  The experience is the light and power we find in the Holy Spirit.  In this moment of grace we overcome the obstacles to our peace in Christ. 
Our prayer may be many times a desert of silence.  That is good; that is the way prayer should be.  It must be founded on pure faith.  However, the fruit of prayer is the power we find to live the life of God in all the particulars of our daily life.  The fruit of prayer is the experience of our new identity as those re-born in Christ.
Look at the First Reading.  Baruch commands us to be joyful in the hope of advent.  Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: Wrapped in the cloak of glory from God, bear on you head the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name.  For God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.
We were re-born in baptism.  The ravages of our personal sins are taken away in Penance to restore us to this divine life.  Our moment of Holy Communion is an intense moment of fulfillment of these words from Baruch.

-William Fredrickson


For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Frederickson