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One of the beautiful aspects of our weekend Masses is that we have Children’s Liturgy.  They say “never work with children nor animals” and it’s true that each time the children come back in, I am wondering what exciting answers they might give when they come up onto the altar to explain what they’ve done.  I think the best answer I got to the question “what were you learning today in the Children’s Liturgy” was “Jesus drives a Suzuki!”  I know that the leaders put a lot of effort into preparing the Liturgy (and I want to record my thanks to them) but I also know from their point of view that sometimes the Liturgy throws up a challenge; the challenge this week is that, for the second week in a  row, the Gospel features the figure of John the Baptist.  Once again we hear the Baptist repeating the call of Isaiah: “Make a straight way for the Lord.”  However, there is a slight difference in emphasis this week: John’s focus is not so much on himself and on the message he came to bring, but rather he points to Jesus, to the “One who comes after him.”  John the Baptist is the witness, the messenger who points the way to Christ.  John the Baptist wants us to think about Christ and what his coming might mean for you and for me.

 

 

 

So what might Jesus’ coming mean for you – this year – in 2017?  When I was thinking about that through the week, my mind went back to the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.  These were written 500 years ago but still have as much meaning to people in these days.  As you know, Ignatius primarily wrote the Exercises as a kind of retreat for those who were becoming Jesuits but can be done by anyone.  They were meant to be done over a month (they can also be done nowadays over a year or so).  He spilt them over four weeks with the first week being a general introduction to God’s love for each person.  The second week – which fixed my mind this week – centres on the life of Christ in his public ministry.  It’s all about the stories that we know well – Jesus growing up in Nazareth, Jesus working with the disciples, Jesus calling sinners, and Jesus dying and rising.  The prayer exercise that came to mind this week when John the Baptist was “pointing the way to Christ” comes just before Jesus’ appearance in the world when he imagines God

 

“looking down upon the world.  He sees men and women, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, so many people aimless, despairing, hateful and killing … and God knows the times has come to send his Son into the world.”

 

 

 

This is the message of Advent, that God is coming into the world – for those men and women that Ignatius imagines 500 years ago, for the young and the old, Jesus is coming into the world for YOU.  So often we think in this Season of Advent about what I CAN DO to prepare for Christ’s coming; and those things are good.  Giving the charity.  Taking part in carols services, Penance Services, being kinder and more loving.  However, I would love you to go out of Church today remembering this point: as much as you want to do something beautiful for God, God is doing something great for you.  Imagine God looking down on your world.  Imagine God seeing you in your moments of joy and your moment of love.  But also imagine God seeing you in your moments of anxiety, your moments of doubt, the moments when you are not sure of the way ahead.  It is for THOSE MOMENTS that God is coming into the world …. FOR YOU!

 

 

 

Today in the Church is called Gaudete Sunday, Rejoicing Sunday.  It is not just that you are called to make God rejoice.  It’s the fact that God is already rejoicing in the goodness in your heart, God is rejoicing in what you already do.  Open your eyes and see God coming to you – in Jesus – rejoicing!

 

 

 

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