December 5 – Advent, Season of Penitence and Preparation

Until I read today’s Mass reading from Philippians 1, I struggled with what to write about our Wednesday morning discussion of Isaiah 25. Considering all the problems in the world today, we seem to have made little progress toward that time when “fierce nations will fear God” and the “uproar of the wanton” will be quelled, a time when all peoples will enjoy  a “feast of rich food and choice wines,” when God will “wipe away the tears from all faces.” I’m inclined to agree with Jim’s comment that this must be a prophecy of the end times.

I found Father Linsky’s comments about salvation being a process and the importance of cooperation,  involving preparation, and effort, to be particularly meaningful. I think that applies to us individually and to the Church and to the whole world. And then the reading from Philippians 1 seemed to express that so well, St Paul writing to the Christians at Philippi.

Philippians 1:3-11   3 I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you,  4 praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you,  5 because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.  6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.  7 It is right that I should think this way about all of you, because I hold you in my heart, you who are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.  9 And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception,  10 to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

There are many examples in Sacred Scripture of the Catholic understanding of the process of Salvation, and these words from St. Paul seem to be an excellent example. As one on my professors at the Lutheran seminary once said,  “Don’t worry about whether you have crossed some line. Worry about the direction you are going.” Or, in the words of theologian Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

We have important roles and responsibilities, all in the general category of cooperation with the love and grace and mercy of our Triune God, in our personal faith journeys, in the ministry of the Basilica of St. Peter, and in the global witness of The Church, the Body of Christ, all in the process of preparation for that time prophesied in Isaiah 25.

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