THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH

Her Doctrine and Morals

Third Sunday of Advent

16 December 2018

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Dear Friends,

St. John the Baptist tells the priests and Levites that Jesus has stood among them and they have not known Him. These men were well versed in the Scriptures, yet somehow, the knowledge or the understanding of the Scriptures had escaped them. The Scriptures all pointed to Jesus, but these wise and learned men could not see the obvious. The Word of God is in the Sacred Scriptures, but they could not see Him. The Word in His Human Body physically stood in Jerusalem and they still could not recognize Him.

There is something profoundly wrong in all this. The wise and learned men of this world search through the Sacred Scriptures, but come up empty-handed every time. They are experts at picking out what suits them or is useful to them, but that which is central and most important for them to know is always beyond them. For this Jesus thanks His Father in Heaven. "I praise You, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was well-pleasing in Your sight." (St. Luke 10:21)

It is not enough to be well versed in the Scriptures. Often those who are so well versed and appear so intelligent to the world are the most ignorant of what is truly important. Pride fills the soul with the emptiness of hot air and there is no room left for Jesus to enter in. It is only through humility that Jesus reveals Himself to us. We must become meek and humble as little children, then the obvious stands clearly before us. The proud and the vain cannot see the forest for the trees. They study all the individual words and meanings, but in doing so they lose the understanding of the whole. They separate and analyze every part but never see the whole. They take and promote whatever feeds their individual prejudices, wants or desires, and therefore never see Jesus Christ.

Not much has changed in the world. We find countless preachers of the Gospel, but very few that find and reveal the true Jesus Christ. They take a part and imagine that this is the whole, and in so doing they create a false Christ or an idol. The true Jesus Christ is hidden from them even though He is revealed plainly in the Sacred Scriptures in front of them.

There are many who find and preach the mercy of Jesus Christ from the Gospels. They, however, seem to miss the justice of Christ that is right there before them. God is all merciful, but He is also all just. They somehow cannot see the various texts where He says that our justice must exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees. (St. Matthew 5:20) We have those who seek and find a version of Jesus that suits them. Perhaps it is a Jesus that allows them to divorce their wife, then they simply ignore the fact that Jesus says in the Sacred Scriptures: "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder." (St. Matthew 19:6) In these and many other various cases, we can say that Jesus stands before them in their very midst and they do not know Him. He speaks and they hear words but they do not comprehend what He has said.

The fault is not in the Sacred Scriptures, nor is the fault with God. The problem is the proud and vain hearts and minds of men. Filled with themselves, they have no room for God. The simple solution is that we all must humble ourselves. We must empty ourselves through self-denial and by dying to ourselves in our daily crosses. As we empty our hearts of self, then there is a place for Jesus to enter in. Then we can see Him, then we can know Him, but most importantly, then we can truly love Him.

As the world around us is in the middle of parties and celebrations — ostensibly in honor of the birth of Jesus, let us follow St. John the Baptist into the desert of self-denial and penance. Let us empty ourselves and seek to become truly meek and humble of heart as Jesus instructs us. "Learn of Me for I am meek and humble of heart." (St. Matthew 11:29) As long as we are filled with the material things and celebrations Jesus remains hidden to us. He stands before us but we never see, know or truly love Him. It is through the penance and mortification of the Advent season that we prepare ourselves to truly receive Him. It is only when we become truly little, humble and meek, that He is revealed to us.

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