Revistíos the Lord Jesus Christ
The Cure of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, spent much time in silence before the Blessed Sacrament. After having observed him thus for many days, a peasant interrupted him and asked, “What do you do here for so long?”
He replied, “Nothing. I look at Him, and He looks at me. ”
Today we begin the season of Advent, a time of preparation and anticipation for the coming of our Lord. The liturgy helps bring this reality to mind.
I guess everyone has had the experience of being at a party or a meal where many people are talking while you try to talk to just one person. Suddenly there is a moment of near silence when the other conversations stop but you keep talking all at the same volume, and suddenly everyone hears some of your words taken out of context, and your are suddenly quite embarrassed.
Today the liturgy does something similar for us. Everything is somber. There is a silence that draws our attention and causes us to examine where exactly our gaze is directed.
“Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and majesty. . . . Look up and lift up your heads, because your salvation is near at hand.” Says our Lord in the today’s gospel. And indeed this is exactly what we do in each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We fix our gaze on Christ – on the crucifix and the altar where He becomes flesh once again. And if, by chance, your attention, devotion, or affection might have strayed a little, each year the Church gives us this season to refocus us once again. For, as St. Peter says in the Acts of the Apostles: “It is not given to men any other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.”
In Advent the Church wants us to consider the three comings of our Lord and how they relate to one another. We are preparing for the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth, when God appeared in human flesh among us, to redeem us and show us the way to heaven. He came in so humble, so loving a form that only the most hardened and frozen of hearts do not melt when considering it. Now we should be remembering the feelings that we experienced last Christmas when we were compelled to weep for joy, and think, “how can I make myself a Little more deserving of such an immense gift this year?”
We also anticipate His final coming in which we hope to find Him – and be found by Him – with this same joy we experience when celebrating Christmas. St. Bernard says: “We live in hope, brothers, and don’t falter but rather be encouraged by the expectation of those joys that are to come.”
But Advent is not only for remembering the past and anticipating the future. The bridge between the first coming and the third, is His daily coming to us right now for our sanctification and salvation. This, in a sense this is the most important of all His manifestations.
“He became incarnate for all, but all of us do not let him live within us. But, it is best to receive Him within yourself now, so that he might not have to come against us later,” says St. Bernard.
The constant between the three comings is our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s easy to distract ourselves preparing all practical details for Christmas. It is easy to think only of the fear or shame of being punished when we consider His final coming. It’s easy to think, when we consider the ways of the world today, that there are other priorities or that it is good to have a diversity of beliefs or truths, all of which can be equally valid. It is easy to think that Christ will come later and so later I will convert. Or that I already was baptized and became a Christian, so therefore I’m fine.
But Paul says in the letter, “You know that now is the time to wake from sleep, because our salvation is nearer at hand.”
And as Jesus Christ himself says in the Book of Revelation, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give to drink from the source of the water of life. ”
Those who do not conform their lives according to Christ, who is the first, last, and the only reality, will be those who fear and tremble when Christ shall come, as today’s Gospel tells us.
“Fix your gaze on Him and only Him, and … let us go forth so that he might reign!” says Father Mateo. “There is no other wisdom than to know Him, and there is no other truth than that of intimacy with Him! Jesus is sufficient for us! To believe is, above all, to throw ourselves upon Jesus, to give ourselves to Him, to live in Him. ”
We do this easily by being attentive to the graces offered to us in every moment of every day to each person. When sufferings and difficulties come, we can offer them for our sanctification or reject them and complain about them. We can seek His will in every situation, or we can look for nothing other than our own will. We can serve Christ through our needy neighbors, or we can live in the isolation of a heart incapable of loving. We can try to always lift our desires and thoughts to Him so that we might turn everything into a prayer, or we can dissipate ourselves in our fantasies, anxieties and interior monologues.
But most of all, we must recognize that the Incarnation of the Son of God was not just a historical event, rather, it is something actual, something continual. There is an Incarnation in every Mass. There is a Christmas in every communion, there is a Bethlehem in each tabernacle. How come you can think of rejoicing in the celebration of His birth, but at the same time be unwilling to take advantage of His continuous presence among us?
Jesus is here!
San Francisco de Sales says: “We must visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament a hundred thousand times daily.”
He came at the first Christmas to visit us, and now he waits for us to visit Him.
This is the secret of all the saints.
“One most probably gains much more by praying for fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament that all the other devotions of the day?” Says St. Alphonsus.
The Venerable Father Olier says: “When there are two roads that lead me to the same place, I choose the one with more churches so that I might stay closer to the Blessed Sacrament.”
And Saint Padre Pio: “A thousand years enjoying human glory is not worth as much as spending just one hour in sweet communion with the Blessed Sacrament.”
What poor souls we are, who, if only we had been there in Bethlehem, would have traveled with Magi, would have kept vigil with the shepherds, and would not have denied lodging to the holy pilgrims, and yet we almost never take advantage of the chance to visit Him in His tabernacles!
Today we celebrate the first communion of these beautiful children. We pray that they never lose the enthusiasm they have right now. That indeed Christ might be the lord of their hearts, today and forever. And for the rest of us, we should ask ourselves if we have allowed our original fervor to falter. We pray for these children as well as for ourselves, that every communion might be as if it were the first, the last, and the only communion of our lives, and that we might always find all our joy in this intimacy with Christ.
Resolve something concretely and firmly this Advent. Get to know your Lord better, who comes to be with you here and now. Attend Mass more. Visit Him in His tabernacles. But you say to me, “Father, I have no time, I’m very busy.” Really? Don’t we make time for what we consider to be a priority? Would you really say, “Ah, what a pity that my children have not eaten in a week, but I really have not had any time to buy food or to prepare it for them”? Of course not. How is it then that we can stand to spend days and even a whole week without visiting him even once? Or worse, to spend weeks, months, or years without receiving Him in Holy Communion. I wonder, If we knew that Christ would be born again, but this time his manager was to be found in Guadalajara, who would not be willing to get up a little earlier, to organize his time a little better, and do what is necessary to ensure that he might be present? Think about it.
If you do not find time for him now, in reality you would not have not found the time for Him at His first coming, and it is most certain that He is unlikely to find the time for you at His last coming.
We can be very preoccupied for the gifts we will give at Christmas, but Christ asks us for just one gift: nothing more or less than your heart.
I conclude with the words of Father Mateo:
It is not enough to believe that He came, you must live as one who really believes that He remained and that He lives among us. How do we come to see Jesus in everything and graft Him in all aspects of our lives, so that He might become, in both our minds and hearts, the very obsession of our lives? Jesus, only Jesus! Why should Jesus, the only unfailing reality of the soul, not exercise the same attractive force on us as that exerted by a husband, a friend, a boyfriend, or a child? Oh Jesus Christ, uncreated Beauty, Creator of all that we admire, He, whose mere gaze enraptures the angels and who is the eternal exaltation of paradise, should he not come to take possession of our whole being?
– Fr. Daniel Heenan, FSSP