As we begin this season of Advent, which marks the beginning of a new liturgical year and as such provides us a time for renewal, a new beginning.
The beginning of the year actually points to the “end.” The end of all creation is marked by the long-awaited return of Jesus, the Son of Man. Our readings point to this end as the day of judgment (“Son of Man” being the scriptural title of the judge of all humanity).
The “end” reminds us that we are on a journey. The voyage through life is not an aimless wandering but has a destination and a goal.
Love is the basis for human life. God, who is love, loved us into being. Love is the force that orders all things toward God and a participation in divine life. When Jesus is asked what is the greatest of all the laws, he replies: “You shall love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love is the basis and starting point. Love also expresses itself as mercy when a violation of love or justice is encountered. Mercy heals and restores. Psalm 25 expresses the desires that lie at the heart of the righteous — to know and live in God’s way. The longing is expressed by the psalmist in this way: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and for you I wait all the day.”
The longing is not some abstract or aimless quest, for “good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way and teaches the humble his way.” He loves us so much that he wants us to know him and the path to meaning of life. This Way is not a teaching or concept, but a person whose birth we prepare to celebrate at Christmas.
Msgr John Shamleffer
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