Father Dylan’s Sermons: 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B

Profile pic

Mk 13:33-37; 1 Cor 1:3-9

I was talking to a friend earlier this year, and he causally made reference to the fact that the Lord Jesus might come again in glory at any time, that, in fact, He might be coming this afternoon. And I, quite spontaneously, said, “But I’ve got some things I need to finish first”.
This is how I’ve often heard other people refer to the Second Coming of Jesus: as something they don’t want to happen just yet. “Go away Jesus, could you come back later, maybe Tuesday? There are a lot of things I need to do first. I’ve not written any Christmas cards, I’ve barely started to think about presents, and basically I’ve just got a lot on right now.”

Now, when phrased like this, it obviously sounds silly. It is not for us to be telling God when He can or can’t come in glory. And yet, it is with thoughts of the Second Coming that the Church starts our Advent preparations for Christmas: We are to start our preparations for the celebration of the anniversary of His birthday, of His FIRST coming, by thinking about His future SECOND Coming. And when we do that a lot of things change their focus. Let me note three.

Firstly, when I think about the fact that Jesus might come, that time might end this afternoon, it suddenly changes what I think is really important. All my priorities shift. So, for example, I might still be aware of the Christmas cards I’ve not sent –but I’d be MORE aware of how much or how little LOVE I have put into those cards.  And I’d still realise that I hadn’t bought many presents yet, but I’d more clearly realise the extent to which this expressed (or not) a lack of love or concern for the people I wasn’t ready for. So, my priorities would shift if I recalled that Jesus is Coming.

Secondly, I’d be less STRESSED about many of those details. I’d value those details in a different way, in some things I’d value them much MORE -because of the re-focusing on what they mean to others, and what they mean to God. But in MOST things I’d value those details in a way that was less focused on myself and my achievement and was thus less STRESSFUL.

Finally, with all of my life presented before me in the judgement, I think I’d be more aware of what I need to be GRATEFUL for. In our second reading we heard St Paul saying that he “never stop[ed] thanking God for all the graces you have received”(1 Cor 1:4) –and he moved straight from that thought to the revelation of the “last day, the day of the Lord Jesus”(1:8). Seeing things in the light of eternity is a good way to be less focused on our problems and more focused on what God has given us, what we have to be thankful for.

To sum that up: We are to start our Advent preparations for Christmas by thinking about the Second Coming in glory at the End of Time –a moment that could be any moment. Thinking about ‘the end’ helps us re-focus on what is important, and at Christmas it is precisely those ‘important’ things we need to be have before us. So, as we heard the Lord say, “Stay awake, because you do not know when the time will come”(Mk 13:33).

Clock

Is Christ or Man at the centre of the Family Synod?

synod

“6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel — 7not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. 10Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. 11For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” –  Galatians 1:6-12

It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Bishops opinions are divided at the Family Synod.

Speaking from Rome, Voice of the Family’s British spokesperson John Smeaton said:

“There’s a clear dividing line between Synod Fathers who are clear about Catholic teaching on human sexuality, and Synod Fathers who offer confusion in their presentation of Church teaching on this and related issues.”

Irish spokesperson Patrick Buckley said:

“Some of the reported interventions in the Synod are not in accordance with Catholic teaching and yet are being released without adequate comment, resulting in confusion about church teaching.”

This is extremely concerning. Why is there confusion? Either the Bishops do not know the teachings of the church or they do know them and are deliberately deciding to go against them.

In his opening address on Monday, Cardinal Péter Erdő of Hungary argued that Humanae Vitae should be read in light of graduality. In a session with reporters at Vatican Radio Monday night, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich invoked graduality as a key to helping the church develop a new way of talking about sex.

In a briefing session for reporters on Tuesday, a Vatican spokesman described graduality as among the synod’s emerging themes, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols of the UK said the idea of graduality “permits people, all of us, to take one step at a time in our search for holiness in our lives.”

In its true form I actually agree with gradualism, but being very careful to remember the cautioning words of JPII.

The last time the Vatican staged a Synod of Bishops on the family, which was almost 35 years ago in 1980, talk about gradualism was in the air, too. Pope John Paul II was sufficiently concerned about where it might lead that he included a warning in a homily he gave for the closing Mass of the synod, a line he then also dropped into the meeting’s concluding document, Familiaris Consortio.

“What is known as ‘the law of gradualness’,” John Paul said, “cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law’.”

What he is getting at here – and what I greatly fear might be happening at the synod right now, is that people are liable to muddy the waters between gradualism ‘we come to Christ one step at a time’ and relativism – ‘what is true for you, might not be true for me’.

And then of course there is Kasper…

Cardinal-Kasper

Kasper’s views on mercy are just plain wrong. Cardinal Kasper acknowledges that all sacramental marriages are indissoluble yet he suggests that because God is merciful it can be permitted for those living in an objectively sinful state to receive Holy Communion. This suggests that Kasper sees the divine mercy more as a ‘looking over’ or ‘forgetfulness’ of sin rather than as an eradication of sin and a profound interior renewal. This is an essentially Lutheran position which sees the justified sinner as, in Luther’s famous words, “dung covered by snow.”

The possibly twisted view of gradualism being presented here, and Kasper’s (nothing short of protestant) views on mercy have one thing in common:

‘Man’ at the centre.

This of course goes against what Pope Francis has asked young pilgrims attending World Youth Day  2013 to do: to keep Jesus at the “centre of their lives.” And against Pope Benedict’s final tweet as pope: ‘…May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.’

boccaccio-boccaccino-christ-in-majesty

Not to get too apocalyptic on you but… I need to quote 675 from the CCC:

“675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”

Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting we are on the verge of the second coming, but what I am suggesting is that we have to be incredibly vigilant of Bishops spouting religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. And any apparent solutions that allow man to glorify himself, and his own wants and desires, in place of God.

Is Christ or Man at the centre of the Family Synod?

10346539_370402133109535_5896222744849305224_n

It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that many of the problems in the church today rest on the relationship one has with Christ. So many, it seems, are having a relationship with Christ on THEIR term rather than on His. When we decide to follow Christ we are doing just that – FOLLOWING. He is in charge. The relationship does not revolve around us. The world does not revolve around us. We must not become the most important thing in our lives – He must. And once this relationship has matured and developed and we find ourselves helplessly and hopelessly in love with Christ, we finding ourselves wanting to give more to him. We are able to understand and accept the doctrine and the rules of the church because within the context of a loving relationship with Christ – they make sense.

Why is no-one at the synod saying this?

Sources:

http://voiceofthefamily.info/wordpress/?p=316

http://www.americancatholic.org/features/johnpaulii/transition/CardinalsKasper.asp

http://voiceofthefamily.info/wordpress/?p=296

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/07/26/wyd-2013-keep-christ-at-the-centre-of-your-lives-pope-tells-pilgrims/

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c2a7.htm