“And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you in all things; that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Thessalonians 5:23
During Advent, one phrase rolls off my tongue so naturally that I almost don’t think about what I’m saying. It’s a groaning of the soul that works itself up all year long, finally manifesting into actual words. “Come, Lord Jesus.”
And I’m not the only one saying it. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel…” The hymn breaks through the silence before and after Mass this time of year, reminding me of all the souls across the ages yearning for their Savior.
Why is this yearning so intense? Because we look around at the fallen world, seeing the results of our fallen human nature. It looks like a barren land, void of holiness. Absent of love. At the deepest levels it becomes obvious that we are not able to fix this on our own. Read St. Paul’s words again. I need God Himself to make me holy. Come, Lord Jesus.
But am I ready for Him to come? What does it mean to be blameless? My human nature wants to take that word and claim that none of this is my fault. Hardly. And what does it mean to be sanctified (holy/perfect) in all things? To be perfect means something in which all the parts are exactly what they should be, everything in proper order. It means humbly living in the spotlight of truth…that God is coming to redeem me, and, oh, how I need to be redeemed!
“What is it to be true? It is to be without pretense. It is to be without excuse. It is to be without justification, because the meting out of justice pertains to God alone.”Mother Mary Francis
Am I ready for Him to come make me perfect? When His light shines so brightly on me that everyone can see every crack and crevice, will my first response be to fall prostrate before Him and accept justice? Or is my disposition still poised and ready to blame every person, situation, and circumstance around me? Will He find me willingly carrying my cross and following Him, or will He find me trying to justify my own actions by accusing everyone else for piling crosses on me?
He came to be our Sacrificial Lamb.
I must allow Him to be my excuse, my justification.
Not confusing His sacrifice as my right to do nothing.
But utilizing His sacrifice as my reason to put in the effort.
Yesterday, during his homily, our priest read from Dom Gueranger’s Liturgical Year. It was written in the late 1800’s and he was speaking about a world so broken they were witnessing all kinds of unthinkable sins. There is a tendency to apply this to our own times, or Dom Guaranger’s times, but he was actually referring to Advent, the time right before Our Lord came in the Flesh. No matter which is “the worst of times,” the answer is still the same. We cannot fix this on our own. We must turn back to God. And that has to start individually, working its way through our families and then out to society through our example.
How do we do this? The process has been laid out for humanity for thousands of years. Confess. Repent. Get in Communion with God. It’s right there in the liturgy of the Mass. The Confiteor. Said twice before we receive Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. His Blood fills in every crack and crevice, making us perfectly holy.
And today’s Gospel brings in St. John the Baptist. He came to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. And he is still saying the same thing thousands of years later to my soul as I feel the clock ticking and wonder what should be done first today to prepare for Christmas.
Until that is done, nothing else should be.