THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Second Sunday in Advent

10 December 2017

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Dear Friends,

Our Lord tells us that we are blessed if we are not scandalized in Him. (St. Matt 11, 6) The messengers of St. John the Baptist were scandalized in Jesus because they were prejudiced in favor of St. John. They were prejudiced in believing that the Messiah was to come in power and glory. They beheld in Jesus humiliation and lowliness. St. John was the son of a high priest, and Jesus was the Son of a carpenter. Jesus lacked the social standing that they were expecting. The disciples of St. John also were witnesses to the austerities and penances of St. John, and they beheld that Jesus ate and drank often in the company of public sinners. They, no doubt, heard St. John declare that Jesus is the One — the Lamb of God — the Savior. They saw the miracles that Jesus performed, but their minds were unable to see the truth.

This is why St. John sent them to Our Lord. It is not St. John that is asking if Jesus is the One to Come. He has sent his disciples to be instructed and converted by Jesus. St. John is diminishing as Jesus is coming more to the front of the social life — just as St. John foretold. (St. John 3, 30) St. John is in prison and is about to be killed. His followers must attach themselves to Jesus or be left truly orphans. St. John, therefore, sends them to Jesus to be instructed and converted by Him.

Our Lord does not praise Himself or answer the question directly, but rather, instructs them to observe what they see in Him and draw the logical conclusions for themselves. This is the same with us today, Jesus does not force Himself into our hearts and minds but presents us with considerations that will naturally lead us to the correct conclusions, if we will cooperate with Him in truly observing and considering all that He has said and done. If we open our hearts and minds to Jesus, we discover in all that He said and did, the key to life and happiness.

The difficulty is in the humility and lowliness that is required to obtain these goals. If we wish to rise to great heights, we must first descend to great depths. The foundation for a tall structure must be laid deep in the ground. Humility is the foundation upon which true happiness is built. True living is, likewise, built upon this foundation of humility. God humbled Himself to become one with us. He humbled Himself to become the lowliest of us. The many Israelites in the time of Jesus (including the disciples of St. John) were looking for something great, something high and mighty — something that is truly awe-inspiring. The humble life of Jesus did not measure up to any of these prejudices. Many were truly scandalized in Him.

The greatness of the Savior came after the humility. The foundation was laid before the edifice was to reach its great heights. It was necessary that Jesus should descend all the way to the bottom, and thus He sacrificed His life on the Cross — dying the death of the worst or the lowest of criminals. From this great depth of humiliation He built up His Church, He opened the gates of Heaven — showing us the way and the means that are necessary for us to enter into the glories of Heaven for which we have been made.

The beginning of our approach to this happiness is in humility. We must begin at the bottom and work our way up step by step. If we build a spiritual edifice without a foundation it will fail — it will fall and crumble. We must not turn away when we see Jesus humbled and welcoming the lowliest of souls to be His companions. Let us not become scandalized in Him. Seeing all that He did, we should learn as St. John's disciples that He is the One that was foretold.

Most importantly, we need to follow Him in this profound humility. We are to learn of Him; humility and meekness of heart. (St. Matt. 11, 29) We are to learn self-denial, mortification, suffering. After we have entered into this spirit — this life and made it our own, then we are ready to begin following Jesus to the heights of true life and happiness. To build our spiritual lives well, we must dig down and remove all that is unstable — all that is not solid and lasting. Then, it is not we but, God that builds upon this foundation. Only that which He builds is lasting. Our main duty is to remove all that is an obstacle to His work. The love and holding on to the things of this earth (even of our very selves) is holding on to things that must pass away — things that are hindrances to the everlasting spiritual tower that God intends to make of us. We must stop putting things in His way — and allow Him to build that which He wants to build within us — a pure and holy Tabernacle for Him to dwell in.

For us to not be scandalized in Him, we must follow Him in humility and accept that this is the true and only path to greatness and happiness in Heaven. Our true goal or purpose in this life is to gradually elevate our hearts and minds to Him, by turning away from and sacrificing all the affections that have become hindrances to the construction of our souls as true Temples of God. His desire is that we become solely His dwelling — our hearts to love only Him — or to love all things in Him, for Him, and with Him. This makes the humility of purging our lives the essential key to following Jesus and obtaining the happiness of eternal life.

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