Embracing Like a Child what God has Revealed, 1st Tuesday of Advent, November 29, 2016

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the First Week of Advent
November 29, 2016
Is 11:1-10, Ps 72, Lk 10:21-24

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Today in the readings, we continue to focus on the qualities of our response in preparing to run out to meet Christ who comes to us in history (Bethlehem), mystery (prayer, the Sacraments, his word, and other) and majesty (on the clouds of heaven at the end of time).
  • Today the Church wants us to focus on childlike trust. In the Gospel, Jesus praised his Father for his “gracious will” to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom to the “childlike,” to those who trust in his as beloved children, to those who are docile, uncomplicated, simple and pure in vision, and dependent on his providential care and love. These mysteries are hidden from the “wise and the clever” of the world not because God doesn’t want them to receive the revelation and come to salvation but because they obscure their own perception of revelation through their own complications and complications. The fullness of that revelation, Jesus says, is the knowledge of the Father and the mystery of his love. The fullness of that revelation is seen in the image of the Father, Christ himself, who incarnated that wisdom. The fullness of that revelation happens when we enter into Christ’s own relationship with the Father. Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus said that unless we convert and become like little children, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Unless we learn to trust in him, unless we see things with simple pure faith, unless we learn to depend on him and recognize that we’re never going to be “self-sufficient,” we won’t be able to understand his kingdom and receive it. Jesus said these words in the Gospel right after he castigated those in Chorazin and Bethsaida for not converting after all his miracles. They witnessed him and his works, but it didn’t lead them to conversion and faith because they sought “adult” explanations that were, in fact, erroneous. The Church wants us to recover the pure vision, the wonder, the trust that should characterize everything we do as Christians. Jesus says that when we do we will be filled with joy. At the beginning of the Gospel, St. Luke tells us, “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit.” He was full of joy at the reality that it was God the Father’s “gracious will” to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom to the “childlike.” And at the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus turned to his disciples and told them, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” All the great heroes of Old Testament times hungered to receive “all the things” that had been handed over to Christ by the Father. They longed to see and hear the fulfillment of all the prophecies in the Messiah who would be Son of God and Savior in a way far greater than they had imagined. Jesus rejoiced at their good fortune. If that’s true, how much greater is Jesus’ joy that we not only behold him in his real presence, hear his words in the Gospel, but have a chance to touch him and be touched by him in a way far more profound than even his disciples when he was proclaiming these words for the first time! This is why St. John, in his first letter, overflowing with joy wrote, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerning the Word of life … we proclaim now to you … so that our joy may be complete.”
  • In the first reading we see where we really need to have that childlike trust. The Prophet Isaiah tells us about the “shoot” that will “sprout from the stump of Jesse.” Jesse was David’s father and David began the Davidic line of kings. Just two generations after David, however, there were attacks to that line and eventually the kingdom of Judah and Israel would be chopped down. Jesse’s line was just a “stump,” but Isaiah foretells that a “shoot shall sprout” from it, fomenting among the Jews the longing for the Messiah, the longing ultimately for Jesus. Isaiah tells us that he would be filled with a spirit of God, that the Spirit would rest on him, the “spirit of wisdom and of understanding, … of counsel and of strength, … of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.” When Jesus entered the Nazareth synagogue to preach for the first time, he cited Isaiah, said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” and gave the purpose of that anointing: “because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, …  to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,  and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” He was the shoot who would bring justice to the world, not judging, as Isaiah describes, by appearances or deciding by hearsay, and that new ordering of things in his kingdom would bring about a revolution. Isaiah describes it by means of unimaginable consequences in the animal kingdom which were meant to be a metaphor for what would happen among human beings: wolves and lambs, leopards and kids, calves and lions, cows and bears, children and cobras, would play together without fear, without bloodshed, without destruction. If that’s what the shoot from Jesse’s stump will bring to the animal kingdom, how much of a greater impact should he have on human beings, when he helps us to live according to his justice, to enter his kingdom, to receive that same Spirit that fills him with wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and awe of the Lord! That’s the one who is coming in history, mystery, and majesty.
  • I’d like to focus more deeply on two applications of what Sacred Scripture is revealing today. The first is about children in the kingdom. Isaiah says that when the shoot sprouts, “a little child [will] guide” both calf and young lion, a “baby shall play by the cobra’s den and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.” Children will be safe. The real sign that Christ’s kingdom has come, that his justice is reigning, what we’re looking at reality with the wisdom that comes from receiving God’s revelation with childlike trust, is in the way we treat children, whether we’re receiving them as we receive Christ, or whether we’re treating them the way unredeemed lions, cobras, adders, wolves and others would.
  • The second application is about how we treat each other. When we’re really looking at things the way God wants us to see, when we’re living in his justice and being marked by his wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and holy awe, then we will not treat each other like wolves and lambs normally do but more and more according to the description of Isaiah. The reality is that often we don’t. We tear each other down and apart. Christ, in coming into the world, wanted to make this possible, if only we receive his work like Mary and Joseph did, rather than those in Chorazin and Bethsaida. Today as we meet Christ who comes, he wants to give us the means to be able to welcome him aright.
  • How blessed are our eyes to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world here on the altar! How blessed are our ears to hear him speaking to us today! How blessed are we as a whole to have received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who once again today seeks to come down upon us to make us one body, one spirit in Christ. We turn in prayer to Jesus whom we’re about to receive and beg him for all the graces He knows we need to become more childlike so that we will become more filled with joy, spend our lives bringing that joy flowing from divine filiation out to those around us, and learning to live with them in the kingdom when Isaiah’s prophecies will be fulfilled.

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 IS 11:1-10

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
The Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Responsorial Psalm PS 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
He shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, our Lord shall come with power;
he will enlighten the eyes of his servants.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 10:21-24

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
“I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
lion-and-lamb2