Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sermon of Fr. Gerard for The Second Sunday of Advent

Art thou who is to come? Or shall we look for another? In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

The Jewish people, whose mission it was to wait for and receive the Messiah, should have known clearly his mission, so often explained to them by the prophets, present this question. Are you he who is to come? Or have we to wait for another? In this, we can see two periods of development in the life of the chosen people, one of growth and another of decline, the latter due in part to failure on the part of the chosen people and in part due to divine punishment.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people in spite of their frequent infidelity, for which they often suffered God’s punishment, were still the star of the east, a brilliant light among the pagans. They were at intimate terms with God who sanctified and governed them, especially through Moses, and then by the prophets and judges. Jerusalem, which is called the vision of peace, was a symbol of this great people called by God to be the greatest on earth because it was from them the Messiah was to come forth. By the time of Christ, a time of decline had already begun. Christ reproached them bitterly, in fact, he wept over Jerusalem, as we read in the nineteenth chapter of St. Luke: “He lamented the terrible destruction, which would come upon them and their city.” After this destruction, the Jews were dispersed over the whole Earth, they were despised by others with a stain of blood on their hands which is yet to be removed. Because as a race, they had not repented for that call before Pontius Pilate, that his blood, the blood of Christ, be upon them and their children. Their vocation was to receive Christ, but blinded by political notions of his kingdom, they did not recognize him when he came. As we read in the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” On the contrary, they accused him of evil doing, persecuted him, and ended by calling for his crucifixion. Christ himself lamented over them as we read in St. Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 23.

This history is frequently repeated in the life of individual souls. The Fathers, who were early ecclesiastical writers, bishops for the most part, see in Jerusalem the symbol of the Christian soul. Like this people, the soul also will sanctify their baptism. This people formed part of a royal race, a kingly priesthood, as we read in St. Peter’s first epistle, Chapter 2. The soul is the object of God’s special providence and all this so that it may fulfill a vocation, similar to that of the Jewish nation. That of receiving Christ, living his life, through sanctifying grace accepting his word and reflecting that word in actions. The secret of the fulfillment of this vocation is nothing else but fidelity. Fidelity to God and his will. All men are called to sanctity of life in the imitation of Christ. Those become saints who do imitate him, those who are faithful. On the other hand, those who do not imitate him become sinners.

What would have become of St. Paul, had he not been faithful to Christ? He may have been a great man in certain respects, but otherwise very unhappy, scandalous, and a great sinner. What would have happened to Julian the Apostate, had he been faithful to Christ? Instead of remaining faithful to Christ, he fell into paganism and tried to restore it as the religion of the Roman Empire. The history of France would have been far different had the King of France listened to St. Margaret Mary and consecrated France to the Sacred Heart. Because this did not take place, a hundred years almost to the day afterwards, this message was given and it was not followed, France experienced the horrors of the French Revolution and the reign of terror, which toppled the French Monarchy and caused the death of so many, including many priests and religious and bishops. The history of Europe would be far different if Napoleon had listened to the message, which a blessed Italian mystic received from God to give to him. He would not listen. The same thing would have happened had Hitler listened to the message that Theresa Nieghman, the stigmatic is said to have had for him from God. It is said that Hitler told his utter lings to leave her be, not to bother her but he had no interest in any message from God.

Through infidelity to Christ, men fall into sin. For the same reason, there are many souls who wish to be saints but who live without giving much fruit, without being at peace with others but finding it in themselves. These are always liable to fall more easily into serious sin, because they have failed to cooperate with the graces given them. Let each of us examine our fidelity to the grace of God. In the manner of love of God and of our neighbor, in the manner of fulfillment of our duties, our prayers and mortifications. Let us examine ourselves so as to avoid the punishment, which we would meet if like the Jews, we prove unfaithful to our vocation.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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