Immersed in Christ: December 28, 2020
Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs
The Responsorial (Psalm 124) expresses the koinonia of the saved:
“Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.”
1John 1:5 to 2:2 tells is that our koinonia is not the fellowship of “white hats” despising “black hats.” The only way to be in union with God and other Christians is to recognize that we are all black hats whom God has washed white in “the blood of his Son Jesus.” We do this at the beginning of Mass, confessing that we are all sinners, gathered together as sinners in the “fellowship of the forgiven.” I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned.
John is clear about it: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But he also says, “If we say we have fellowship with him while continuing to walk in darkness, we are liars.” Is there a contradiction here?
To “walk in the light” means that we “acknowledge our sins.” We may be enmeshed in some sin we have not yet overcome, but we do not rationalize. We admit our weakness and keep confessing our sins, even when we feel powerless to turn away from them. A “firm purpose of amendment” is a purpose, not a prediction: a sincere desire of the heart to be free of sin that trusts in what God can do — in his time and in his way. We keep coming to him in Communion as long as he keeps coming to us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
We may say as Paul did to the Romans, “I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin.” We may be enmeshed, but if we walk in the light of trust, one day we will say, “Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.” Our trust is in God’s power to rescue, not in our power to escape.
There are two serious problems in Christian life: false fear of God and misplaced — but very understandable — anger at God. We have considered false fear. Now Matthew 2: 13-18 shows us people with a reason to be angry! Would you like to have been the rabbi in Bethlehem who had to explain to those mothers why God warned Joseph and Mary before the soldiers came to get his son out of town— but didn’t warn them? If they stood before you with the mangled bodies of their babies in their arms crying, “Why?” what would you have said?
God is smart enough to say nothing; he gives no answer in the Gospel: “Rachel bewailing her children; no comfort for her, since they are no more.” Some things cannot be explained, and to try only makes it worse. The only answer is blind — which here means enlightened — trust that God who is all powerful, all knowing and above all, all loving, will be able to explain himself at the end.
In the meantime, we remember the loving care we have experienced from him. We look backwards to what we know in order to look forward to what we do not know. “Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.” We trust him to make that rescue complete.
Initiative: Never stay away from Confession or Communion because you see no hope of change. If you desire and hope, God will come to the rescue.