Immersed in Christ: December 2, 2020
Wednesday of the First Week of Advent
Praise God for the Church
“Let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
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.
The Church is the “mountain” of the Lord. Praise God for what he is doing there. “On this mountain the Lord of hosts:
“…will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food…” Vatican II’s Decree on Divine Revelation 21 says, “In the sacred liturgy, the Church unceasingly receives and offers to the faithful the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body... Sacred Scripture is the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.” Do you want to appreciate the Church? Praise God for providing “rich food” in the Mass. What we praise we will appreciate.
“…will destroy the veil that veils all peoples…” On this mountain the Church sweeps aside the restrictions our secular culture puts on the expression of truth. In the Mass we celebrate our identity as divine; we accept ourselves and everyone else as sinners, and as brothers and sisters. In the Mass we respond to the sin and suffering of the world by offering ourselves to let Christ act with us, in us, and through us to give life to all we encounter; we proclaim the “blessed hope” that we await: Christ’s total victory over evil, and we look forward to the peace and unity of his Kingdom. If we praise God for what we celebrate, we will appreciate the Church as radiating truth. Praise makes us aware.
“…will destroy death forever…” The Church is like Oz: everyone living on this mountain is immortal. The first Preface for the Dead says that at death, “for your faithful, Lord, life is changed, not ended.” For us, physical death just opens the door to the party. If we remember to praise and thank God often for our immortality, we will appreciate the Church as a womb from which we go forth to life, not death. What we praise we will appreciate. Praise makes us aware.
“…will wipe away the tears from every face…” Everyone experiences sorrow. We are separated from loved ones when they go to heaven and leave us on earth. We suffer from misunderstanding and mistreatment, from our own faults and failures. But on this mountain the Church offers truths that put all pain in perspective; that give meaning, comfort and hope. And promise for the future. If we praise God for what we receive, we will appreciate the Church as “comforter of the afflicted.” What we praise we appreciate. What we appreciate gives us joy.
I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
DAILY PRACTICE: Be aware. Count your blessings in the Church. Praise God for what he does on his holy mountain.
ADVENT PRAYER: “Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”
1 See my book A Fresh Look at the Mass (Twenty-Third Publications, 2015).