November 29, 2011

Mercy and Advent

These days of Advent are about preparing a welcome for the Light of Christ who comes to us anew in ever more wonderful ways because of God's great love for us.   When He first came it was the poor, the lowly, the foreigner, and the outcasts of society who welcomed Him.  He in fact became all these things.  But what of the mighty, the proud and the rich?   To welcome Him is to say yes to love, especially love in difficult circumstances, when it really counts.  Mercy is love in the face of suffering and during Advent we prepare for Christmas through the mercy we show to one another.  This means we need to find ways to effectively love one another in the midst of suffering.  This can be inconvenient and even painful in all kinds of ways.  But Christ crucified is not convenient and his coming in our midst demands that we let go of our other priorities and allow Him to become our priority, especially when He is present in those most in need - the abandoned, the neglected, the despairing, the mourning, the depressed, those suffering all kinds of illnesses and disease, the hungry, the cold.  He is there with such as these and comes to us through them-- and being watchful of his coming, staying vigilant, and "making straight a highway for God" means that we must go into the highways and byways, seek out and love these whom God loves, so that his mercy might be revealed, so that He might be welcome among us again.

As a result of Christ's salvific work, man exists on earth with hope of eternal life and holiness.  And even though the victory over sin and death achieved by Christ in His cross and resurrection does not abolish temporal suffering from human life, nor free from suffering the whole historical dimension of human existence, it nevertheless throws a new light upon this dimension and upon every suffering: the light of salvation.  This is the Light of the Gospel, that is, of the Good News.  At the heart of this light is the truth expounded in conversation with Nicodemus: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." 
Blessed John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris #15.