“The Lord has done great things for us
We are filled with joy” (Psalm 125)

By directing our attention away from ourselves to focus instead on what God has done and is doing in the Church and in each of our lives, today’s Mass readings provide a wonderful message of hope:

 It is the Holy One who ‘remembers’ us and comes to us in the wilderness of our lives and  makes us ‘jubilant’ as He came of old to the Israelites in their exile and as he came to John in the wilderness.  So it is in the wilderness of our lives – with it pain and heart break, its anxieties and preoccupations – that we hear the Word of the Lord inviting us to repent of our sinful and all too human outlook and to prepare  a way for His coming. 

 In the first reading the prophet Baruch invites us to take off the “dress of sorrow and distress” – whatever enslaves us –  and “put on the beauty of the glory of God and to wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around us.”  For us Christians we know that the ‘cloak of integrity’ is nothing other than our being “in Christ” through our Baptism. In Christ Jesus we are all “sons of God through faith – when we were baptised we were clothed with Christ” (Gal 3:26,27) who has become “our wisdom, our virtue, our holiness and our freedom” (1Cor 1:30).  Each of us can say “it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”(Gal 2:10).

 In the second reading St Paul suggests that it is our mutual love for each other which helps us become “pure and blameless for the Day of the Lord when we reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God.”   It is not so much a matter of our own effort – rather it is all the work of God within us – our part is to believe and trust that His power is at work in our lives and can achieve more than we can ever ask for or imagine but we need to give Him a free hand.

I often reflect on how disappointed I’ll be when I meet the Lord face to face and come to realise that not only has He been walking at my side but has been the very source of life and all too  often I do not recognise Him.  Advent is a time to renew our attentiveness to His abiding presence in our lives, to hear Him say: “behold I stand at the door and knock” waiting for our response to open and invite Him in.

 As we journey through this advent of 2012 we pray that God may guide us as He guided Israel“in joy by the light of His glory with His mercy and integrity for escort.” (Bar 5:9) and may the valleys of our hearts be filled and the mountains laid low and the winding ways be straightened and the rough roads made smooth so that through us the salvation of our God may become more manifest to a broken and thirsting world.  (cf Lk 3)