1st Sunday of Advent 30.11.14 Salvation
We need Advent to understand Christmas properly.
If we are to celebrate the coming of the Saviour we need to realize there is something we are being saved from – which is sin and death.
So we need a penitential season to get us in an appropriate amount of relief that the Saviour is coming.
The Saviour comes to bring Salvation. Salvation is a complex thing.
It is not just like say, if I gave you a million dollars you could put it in your pocket and walk off.
But salvation is not like that, though it is a free gift. Salvation is a process, a relationship.
We are not saved passively or inertly as though we are simply lifted up from earth and put down somewhere in heaven.
We are saved only when we make a fully free and conscious decision to live in ongoing union with Almighty God.
He wants us to live in an ongoing covenant with Him, whereby we trust and obey Him at all times. He, for His part, will reward us with eternal life and help us negotiate all the troubles of this life.
The more actively we join in on this process the better it works.
Salvation is not a ‘quick-fix’. This is why we cannot always get what we pray for, or have everything the way we like it.
God will grant some of our prayers and not others, but He is not inconsistent.
He is working towards an overall goal which is to lead each person to this relationship of trust.
Accordingly we have to be patient with God. His plans can take centuries or even millennia to take full effect.
Whenever we encounter a long wait there is always a temptation to discouragement.
We are tempted to say God has abandoned us; has forgotten His promises. There is no salvation for us. Maybe He acted in the past, but He is not acting now etc etc…
But the truth is He is still very much with us, and His grace is active in our midst.
And the effect of this grace will be to enable us to act. Despite this long time span there are still certain things we can do to bring about at least some instant improvement.
While we have to be patient we do not have to be inactive. We can get our own lives in order at least, and live in the daylight not the dark, as the epistle tells us.
If we are living holy lives, constantly repenting and correcting our faults, then we will be ready at any time for either our own death or any decisive intervention by Almighty God in history.
This is the covenant to which we are called. This is how we live it.
So it becomes an ongoing activity which takes us a whole lifetime to bring to fruition.
And this another reason why we cannot see all the answers at once, but we still believe there are answers in place.
We have not simply been abandoned.
We can pray for God’s miraculous intervention but we know that most of the hard work is done in everyday fidelity to duty and patient acceptance of the sufferings we encounter.
God works from within more than from the outside (cf the Incarnation).
The miracles help when they happen, but most of the work is found in the daily detail.
This is how we are saved. Come, Lord Jesus!