2nd Sunday of Advent 10.12.17 Salvation
There is a deep longing in us for things to be right, to be as they are meant to be. We have an instinct to want justice, for example, or an end to cruelty and violence. Certain things we see or hear will immediately bring a reaction from us.
The same longing applies to ourselves, though it may not be so apparent. We would like to be as we are meant to be. This comes from the fact that God has planted in us a desire to be at one with Him. to share in His created order.
When God created the world He naturally saw how all things would fit in with each other. Sin has ruptured that order, but it can be retrieved, and that is the essence of Our Lord’s saving mission.
Christ came to help us to sort out our desires, to steer us in the right direction.
John the Baptist was a part of that process. He told the people what they wanted, even if they did not know they wanted it. He awakened in them, from somewhere deep down, this desire that they could be better. Even the wicked Herod liked to hear John speak (Mk 6,20).
We are torn between the selfishness we have inherited and learnt, on the one hand, and on the other hand a new freedom from sin, and purity of intention.
We choose between self-indulgent pleasure-seeking, or the ability to exercise restraint, working to a higher goal.
We know we would rather be the latter. But it takes a certain effort to sustain that vision.
Still it explains how we can be attracted to a harder life. It is the not the ‘hardness’ we want, so much as the ‘betterness’. Thus we are inspired by the lives of the saints. They sacrificed so much, always driven by a higher goal.
Young people in particular feel this dichotomy. This would explain their willingness to make sacrifices, when sufficiently inspired: for example, the desire to join strict religious orders, and seminaries.
We get tired of too much pleasure, leading nowhere. As Our Lord points out to the crowd: You did not come out into the desert to see those who live in luxury. You came out to see a man who lived a severely penitential life, and who spoke the plain truth. This is what you are hungering for.
This applies to us with the same force as to the people in John’s time. We seek the better life, and we find it in more prayer, especially the Mass; doing penance, good works, pushing ourselves a little harder, and that continuously.
There is that inner voice calling each one to something great, or at least greater.
We can hear that voice if we turn off enough of the surrounding noise.
Whether old, young, or in the middle, we are always refining and deepening our response.
If we are life-long disciples (or most of our lives), it may seem a long time to stay faithful; but it becomes easier when the attractiveness of a holy life becomes apparent.
It is not giving up happiness to be miserable instead; but giving up one sort of happiness for a much better one.
John showed the way, and Our Lord took it further still. He shows us, and He equips us to take it.
We do not just admire holy people, as we might look at an exhibit in a museum; but rather we are stirred to imitate them, and so we present ourselves now, to be stirred into true discipleship of Christ.
To live a harder life for the sake of a better life.