As a boy, I knew a good and holy priest who was very much loved. He once said to me, “I think, perhaps, there are many who turn their back on their Lord and on their Church because of their priest, and not in spite of their priest”. I think there is truth in this. I wonder if there is truth, also, in the fact of clergy who are severely tested, sometimes to extremes, by their people, whom they love, and by the institutional Church as it operates.
I have been sad, just like many others; priests and people. I have frequently even turned this back in upon myself. Have I done enough? Am I sufficiently and often enough in tune with my God?
At Advent time we hear sermons and reflections about the two comings of Jesus: the Incarnation, and the Second Coming at the end of time. We might do well to reflect on the important significance of the Third Coming, which is generally left unmentioned. One of the most transforming graces of Advent is given us when we contemplate the first two comings of which I speak. The more we rejoice at the coming of Jesus in history and in the promise of knowing Jesus in his complete and glorious reign, the closer we come to experiencing the wonderful mystery Jesus presents in our every day lives. In this, we find we might live more at home in this world, with greater freedom and peace. The words, “Come, Lord Jesus”, become, “Be with me Lord Jesus. The complete story draws us to the full picture of who we are, where we belong, and what true goodness and love are; present gifts of God’s grace.
A blessed and meaningful Advent and a joyous and fulfilled Christmas to you all.
PS When I was a schoolteacher, I also used to ponder if many young people learnt in spite of their teachers rather than because of them!