The face of God

First Sunday of Advent.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

A new liturgical year begins on this First Sunday of Advent. In the responsorial psalm our prayer asks the Lord to show us his power so that we can receive his salvation.

We contemplate the power of God on the Cross of Christ. It is made manifest in the radicality of His love. During his apostolic visit to Myanmar, a few days ago, Pope Francis reminded us that when we turn our eyes to the cross we encounter wisdom, power, healing and salvation, precisely because on it we contemplate the infinite love of God.

Commenting the Mass readings for last Wednesday, beginning with the first one from the book of the prophet Daniel, which narrates the rebellion of the King against God that leads the former to find his days numbered, his life empty and his kingdom divided, the Pope said:

“Today’s first reading, from the Book of Daniel, helps us to see how limited is the wisdom of King Belshazzar and his seers.  They knew how to praise “gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone” (Dn 5:4), but they did not have the wisdom to praise God in whose hand is our life and breath.  Daniel, on the other hand, had the wisdom of the Lord and was able to interpret his great mysteries.

The ultimate interpreter of God’s mysteries is Jesus.  He is the wisdom of God in person.  Jesus did not teach us his wisdom by long speeches or by grand demonstrations of political or earthly power but by giving his life on the cross.  Sometimes we can fall into the trap of believing in our own wisdom, but the truth is we can easily lose our sense of direction.  At those times we need to remember that we have a sure compass before us, in the crucified Lord.  In the cross, we find the wisdom that can guide our life with the light that comes from God.

From the cross also comes healing.  There, Jesus offered his wounds to the Father for us, the wounds by which we are healed.  May we always have the wisdom to find in the wounds of Christ the source of all healing!  I know that many in Myanmar bear the wounds of violence, wounds both visible and invisible.  The temptation is to respond to these injuries with a worldly wisdom that, like that of the king in the first reading, is deeply flawed.  We think that healing can come from anger and revenge.  Yet the way of revenge is not the way of Jesus.

Jesus’ way is radically different.  When hatred and rejection led him to his passion and death, he responded with forgiveness and compassion.  In today’s Gospel, the Lord tells us that, like him, we too may encounter rejection and obstacles, yet he will give us a wisdom that cannot be resisted.  He is speaking of the Holy Spirit, through whom the love of God has been poured into our hearts.  By the gift of his Spirit, Jesus enables us each to be signs of his wisdom, which triumphs over the wisdom of this world, and his mercy, which soothes even the most painful of injuries.

On the eve of his passion, Jesus gave himself to his apostles under the signs of bread and wine.  In the gift of the Eucharist, we not only recognize, with the eyes of faith, the gift of his body and blood; we also learn how to rest in his wounds, and there to be cleansed of all our sins and foolish ways.  By taking refuge in Christ’s wounds, dear brothers and sisters, may you know the healing balm of the Father’s mercy and find the strength to bring it to others, to anoint every hurt and every painful memory.  In this way, you will be faithful witnesses of the reconciliation and peace that God wants to reign in every human heart and in every community…

Jesus wants to give this wisdom in abundance.  He will surely crown your efforts to sow seeds of healing and reconciliation in your families, communities and the wider society of this nation.  Does he not tell us that his wisdom is irresistible?  His message of forgiveness and mercy uses a logic that not all will want to understand, and which will encounter obstacles. Yet his love, revealed on the cross is ultimately unstoppable.  It is like a spiritual GPS that unfailingly guides us towards the inner life of Godand the heart of our neighbour.

Our Blessed Mother Mary followed her Son even to the dark mountain of Calvary and she accompanies us at every step of our earthly journey.  May she obtain for us the grace always be to messengers of true wisdom, heartfelt mercy to those in need, and the joy that comes from resting in the wounds of Jesus, who loved us to the end.”

Fr. Roberto M. Cid