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Second Friday of Advent: "Bring me flesh and bring me wine", but not yet...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Readings: Isaiah 48:17-19; Psalm 1:1-4,6; Matthew 11:16-19

Somewhat earlier than expected in Dominican life, I find myself in the awkward position of trying to avoid repeating what I’ve already said about a particular Gospel passage. A more textual reflection on today's Gospel reading, which I wrote last year, is available here.

Taking a slightly different tack, the theme I want to focus on this year is celebration. As one who enjoys a celebration or three, I take some comfort from this passage as it is implicit in what is said that Our Lord enjoyed a feast, a drink and kept some fairly disreputable company. How else could he have attracted such adverse criticism? There are many cynical, puritan types who seem disdainful of any such fun. They are much more at home in Lent when sackcloth and ashes are the order of the day. Whilst there is a time and a place for penance and sorrow, a consistently sombre outlook, I want to suggest, misses the point: Christians should exude a spirit of joy. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, recently took pains to underline the Joy of the Gospel. And what more cause for joy than the coming of God-made-flesh?

But lo! - one can hear the angry clamour of Scrooges and naysayers protest - is it not too soon for all of that? Advent, after all, is a time of preparation for the coming of the Saviour. On this point I must agree, even if department stores and advertising executives might try to persuade us otherwise. On the party theme: it's simply premature to start before the main guest arrives.

When Christmas does come, though, let's take the opportunity to celebrate Our Lord’s coming with due solemnity in the liturgies (who doesn't love Midnight Mass?) and with due merriment at the Dinner Table amidst family and friends. Let our witness be one of faith in the Incarnation, hope in the heavenly kingdom and love of God and His children through prayer, charity and almsgiving. How could such a Christian witness be devoid of celebration? How could we fail, in so doing, to radiate joy?

Br Samuel Burke O.P.

Br Samuel Burke O.P. Br Samuel Burke is a deacon based in Rome where he is completing his studies at the Angelicum  |  samuel.burke@english.op.org


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