By Deacon Keith Fournier
© Third Millennium, LLC
"We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming "all flesh will see the salvation of our God," and "they will look on him whom they pierced." The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty."
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Like millions of Christian families, we continued the gradual decoration of our home this past weekend. Funny, as I age, I have come to understand Advent so much better. We need time to get ready.
We placed the manger scene on the mantle, leaving a space, a vacancy, for the infant Jesus. The youngest child places him in the center of it all on Christmas Eve. Our youngest son is now 15 and our oldest daughter will soon be twenty eight, with three more in between. Ah, the domestic church of the Christian family.
We now have a grandchild who lives in our home and lights up the Season more than the tree that illuminates our living room. We just received the glorious news our oldest son has invited his beloved to marry him and they will be here on Christmas Eve! In fact, all the children will be with us this Christmas to celebrate the first coming of the Lord.
However, over these years of birthing, loving, raising, praying, worrying, hoping… they have themselves become the occasions for many comings, in the way Bernard addresses in this, one of my favorite of his sermons with which I began this reflection.
Faith for a Christian is like a lens, it helps us to see everything differently. Theologians speak of “hermaneutics”, a ten cent word that speaks to the same truth. As I write this reflection, I am wearing reading glasses. I, like many of you, had to admit this past year, that my arm was getting “too short” to read the paper! It was amazing what happened when I put those reading glasses on! Everything became clear.
That is how it is with living faith; it opens your eyes to see the comings of the Lord.
The Christian message is all about the comings of the Lord, that’s right, I mean to say “comings”. He comes regularly to those who have the glasses of faith on! He comes in the eyes of that grandchild, so full of wonder with hope for the future that has not been made cynical by the inevitable struggles of life. Those eyes are the eyes of Christ who is “forever young” and they teach us the lesson that we must “become like a child” He comes in the tender smile of his mother, my daughter, who chose life and has experienced the greatest gift of all.
He comes in the joy I feel in knowing my oldest son has found a woman to love, who also loves the Lord, and with whom He will soon make a new family and carry on the mission of incarnating the love of a God who is revealed in Christian marriage and faithful, committed love. Together he and his bride will have the joy of learning to love and bringing new children into the world.
He comes in the loving eyes of my dear bride of almost thirty years as she continues to pour herself out for others, a symbol of the very meaning of human existence. How I cherish her even more as the years race by. Love is like a good red wine; it deepens and becomes so much richer with age. It strikes me as profound this year that the lines, each earned through suffering and faithfulness, have made her already beautiful blue eyes even more ravishing now in her fifties.
He comes in the friends who gathered in our home last Friday, as they do every year, to exchange gifts, but really to receive one another as a gift. He comes in the bustle, even the seeming madness of last day Holiday rush, in the stranger who wishes you a Merry Christmas. He comes.
The preparation will soon be over and the day will break upon us. If you listen closely, you will hear the angels sing, because He comes. In only a matter of hours, my last teenage son will place that little infant in the manger scene, as will children all over the world. This God who made Himself vulnerable, who become a baby, will be born again in all of our hearts and our homes.
We, with millions throughout the world, will welcome Him at the Divine Liturgy as He comes, in His word proclaimed from the ambo and in that marvelous Sacrament of the Altar where He gives Himself, body, blood, soul and divinity, to all who will believe and receive. He comes!
Let us welcome Him and rejoice that heaven has come to earth and earth will no longer be the same, because He comes! Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Merry Christmas to all of your families!
Deacon Keith Fournier is a married Roman Catholic Deacon, with five children and one grandchild. He also serves the Melkite Greek Catholic Church with approval. He is a human rights lawyer and a graduate of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. He is a co-founder of the “Your Catholic Voice Movement” and the founder and President of Common Good.
http://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Executive Editor, 757 546-9580
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