To understand the highest expression of God’s love, we have to recognize that we have been created in the image and likeness of God. Do we really understand the meaning of this? Have we conducted our life in the likeness and image of God? You and I were created as rational beings, to be able to act according to what is good or bad. God has given us free will, true freedom, if you will. The proper exercise of free will or true freedom always directs us toward God and expands us so we may grow into perfection. It must be exercised in the context of what is morally right and just.
In Sirach 15:14, the writer says, “God in the beginning created human beings and made them subject to their own free choice.” God wants us to experience true freedom, the exercise of free will, which derives from our creation in the likeness and image of God. If we possess a bottomless desire in our hearts to be like Him, the grace of God will and can dispose us to enter into Divine Joy.
In the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, we are reminded that we are “enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge.” (1Cor 1:5) However, have we championed the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, namely knowledge understanding, counsel, wisdom, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord? It says in Psalm 111:10, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” As followers of Christ Jesus, we have to accept our nothingness in order for the Holy Spirit to act in our lives.
Each one of us is constantly graced with the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His purpose. As members of the body of Christ, we are instructed to fellowship with His Son (1 Cor 1:9), so we may learn to listen when God is speaking. Living in the presence of Sanctifying Grace rekindles our sensitivity to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This sensitivity encourages us to become responsible receivers of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is a condition of the heart, mind and spirit that draws us to be alert and to remain vigilant as we await “Parousia”- the second coming of Christ Jesus.
The challenge is for all of us, in every situation and in every vocation. Because of our human vulnerability to falling deeply into sin, there is an urgency to remain faithful and persevere with the love and mercy of God. We cannot compartmentalize our life. We cannot have a secular life different from our religious life, because God is everywhere. Since God created us to rule over the earth, we can and must be creative in order to magnify the presence of God in the web of relationship in our family, friends and work.
Oftentimes our lives are focused on the reality of human interaction and emotional response to one another. But we fail to recognize that we must point our human experience to another reality, the reality of spiritual warfare. We need to employ this wartime mindset because the war is ceaseless. “For our struggle is not with the flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” (Eph 6:12) For this reason the readings remind us to be alert and watchful.
Now that we have come to the beginning of Advent, are we content with what we have materially achieved, or do we shed tears of joy knowing that the infant Jesus is coming? Do we give more attention to His coming or to the beckoning of holiday lights and glamorous store displays? Are we ready to rest our heart, mind, and spirit in the palm of our mighty God? Are we ready to remain vigilant and watchful in the face of the world’s indifference to the cross of Christ?
ARE WE READY? ARE YOU READY?