November 30, 2018

Christ the Cornerstone

Waiting in joyful hope for the one who brings us Good News

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!’ ” (Rom 10:13-15)

The publication date for this column is Friday, Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, and like his brother he was called by Jesus to give up everything and follow him.

Like all devout Jews, Andrew and his brother Simon were waiting for the one who would redeem the people of Israel from their subjugation to the Romans. They were waiting for a savior, one who would bring the good news of their liberation from the grave social, political and religious burdens imposed on them by the ruling classes of their day.

Nothing in sacred Scripture or Church tradition suggests that Andrew and Simon Peter were politically active. They were simple fishermen. But as they went about their family’s business, they looked for their redeemer. When he called their names, they were ready.

This Sunday, Dec. 2, is the First Sunday of Advent. We begin each Church year with a season of waiting, a time of expectation and longing. We are waiting for the same thing that Andrew and Simon were. We are waiting for the one who calls each one of us by name, inviting us to give up everything and follow him.

Advent shows us that a personal encounter with Jesus Christ is what we truly hope for at this time of year (and always). It reminds us that all the joys of the Lord’s Second Coming can truly be ours—if we learn to wait for them prayerfully as we go about our daily business.

And, so, we pray: Come, Lord Jesus. Help us wait patiently in joyful hope. Prepare us for your coming again. Remove all the obstacles—our frustrations, pain and anger—that prevent us from receiving you with joy, so that we may share your love with others and become one with you always.

If we are devout Christians (as Simon and Andrew were devout Jews), we are keenly aware that the Lord’s saving grace is needed now more than ever in this time of civil strife, political discord and scandals in our Church. We know that the times are unsettled, and that the only truly satisfactory solution is the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This awareness makes the season of Advent more poignant than ever. Our longing is intensified. Our hope is more personal. And—if we’re ready—the joy that we will experience when we celebrate the great feast of Christmas will be truly profound.

Advent prepares us to celebrate Christmas without falling into the trap of superficial or unrealistic expectations. It teaches us that the greatest gift of Christmas is the Lord himself. He is the one we are waiting for. We know that he came to us in the flesh 2,000 years ago, and that we are invited to encounter him every day in the Scriptures, the sacraments, and in our communion with our sisters and brothers in the ministry of charity. And still we long for him. We look for him eagerly with high hopes.

Preparing ourselves spiritually for the Lord’s coming again isn’t easy. Many things inside us, and all around us, seek to distract us from concentrating on the wonder of Christ’s birth and the promise that he will come again in glory.

Let’s resist the temptation to experience Christmas as just another holiday. Let’s make it a day of holiness, a day of hope, and a day when we experience once again the powerful presence of Jesus, who really is God‑with-us, in our personal lives and in our world.

Come, Lord Jesus. Help us be ready for you as Andrew and Simon Peter were. Enter into our hearts and homes this Christmas. Help us to proclaim your Good News. Teach us to give generously. Help us welcome you, love you and serve you—this Christmas Day and always!

May all the people of our archdiocese—the Church in central and southern Indiana—experience true peace, hope and joy during the Advent and Christmas seasons. May we begin this new Church year confident that the Lord’s coming again will heal all our wounds and unite us in love in spite of our divisions. †

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