Depressing only if we lose sight of the hope given us by God, only if we fail to recognize the one promise that is true and unshakable, the promise of God's love for us. Depressing only when we fail to recognize the life and love that the Lord has invested in us - a life and love that has its origins in a death freely accepted in absolute love. Depressing only if we fail to be attentive to the Scriptures that were written for our encouragement and endurance in order that we might have hope.
From Jesse's stump a shoot shall sprout and from its roots a bud shall blossom. Jesse, blessed by God, source of the Davidic Kingdom, honorable and guided by God, was cut down. Yet from its root, from its stump, something new has come, something that will assure the continuance of the eternal promise. The tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire, not to destroy, but rather to purify so that new life can come forth from death. It is like the new shoots that spring up after the destructive forest fire.
On this second Sunday of Advent, in this time of preparation and anticipation, in this winter of our discontent, we hear John the Baptist calling us to "Repent!" The time is at hand! Now is the moment to let go, to allow the Lord to enter in, to die to ourselves and to sin and to let Christ live in us. As the author of Romans reminds us today:
"May the God of endurance and encouragement
grant that you think in harmony with one another,
in keeping with Christ Jesus,
that with one accord you may with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you,
for the glory of God."
Here lies our promise of hope. Here lies our life. Here lies our eternal future in Christ Jesus.
I helped our neighbors at Saint Agnes Parish celebrate First Reconciliation this afternoon by hearing confessions. As always, the kids were great. I appreciated the opportunity.
This evening I went out to eat and just after I sat down at my favorite restaurant in Irwin, Romano's, a family came in as well. The little guy with them saw me and was very excited, for he had come to me that afternoon for the Sacrament. We shared dinner and conversation and a great evening together in honor of his special day. Again, I was blessed.