November 30, 2014
Advent: From the Old Testament to the New
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Notice that today we start a new volume number on our bulletins: volume XVIII. Today, the first Sunday of Advent, is the first Sunday of new beginnings, including the church’s liturgical year. Today, even moreso than on New Years Day, our church invites us to make resolutions of faith, hope, and charity—to start anew in our friendship with Jesus Christ and with the church.
Two weeks ago, in Cleveland, two men were released from prison. Nearly forty years ago they were convicted of a murder; they were in fact innocent. They were convicted on the testimony of a little boy who now as an adult has recanted. I could not help but think: how does a prisoner live in prison—for one day let alone for forty years—knowing he is innocent? And how does a lying witness live freely—for one day let alone for forty years—knowing he is guilty? The answer of course is truth. The truth of one’s innocence must itself become one’s freedom. The truth of a guilty conscience will always convict one, if not in this life then in the next, if one is truly to be free.
Advent is the season for us to consider the truth of the prisons of our life and freedom, where we are truly free and where we live the lie of freedom although guilty. Advent is the time to consider the darkness and the light, where we walk in darkness yet long for light. Advent is the season to consider anew what we really need to be free and what “paltry thing,” as the Book of Proverbs says, is “bewitching us.” For freedom has no need to know what does not perfect it, and what does not perfect our freedom is evil—spiritual, moral, physical.
Advent is a sort of old testament to the new testament that is the birth and life of Christ. St. Bernard of Clairvoux said that in the Old Testament God revealed himself in divine power and wisdom, but neither worked. Man perverted God’s power and wisdom in order that he, man, might control God. And so in the New Testament, that is, in the humanity of his Son, Jesus, God revealed himself in mercy. But because man could not pervert or control the man, Jesus, man killed him, man killed God. Advent gives us the time to undo our perverted attempts to control God, even to kill him, and instead to welcome him anew, as if welcoming a new born babe, to be set free from untruth, from darkness, from prison. “Let your goodness then appear, O Lord, that man, who is created in your image, may be conformed to it.”
Today we welcome Father Greg Cleveland to OLOL. Fr. Greg is leading our Advent parish mission, which begins this evening (Sunday). Consult the bulletin for more details and begin your Advent discerning God’s Spirit in your life.
Finally beginning tomorrow, Monday, OLOL parishioners may register their children for grades K-7 for the 2015-2016 parish school year. Registration packets are available online at ourladyofloreto.org. Click on the School tab and follow the Admissions link to download the packet.