•Baruch 5: 1-9; Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11; Luke 3: 1-6•
Weekly Scripture Readings:Second Sunday in Advent
In this second week of Advent I again invite you to ponder the words of the Trappist monk and mystic, Thomas Merton:
“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent
and the divine is shining through it all the time.”
This year our companion and guide into the Christ Mystery is Luke. Much of the material in his gospel is from Mark’s gospel. Unlike Mark, Luke begins his gospel with a short passage referred to as the Lukan Infancy Narratives. Then he begins the “orderly account” of his gospel by placing John the Baptist in center stage.
“Prepare the way of the Lord.” I presume you remember the song in Jesus Christ Superstar. It echoes and resonates within us because of the melody. The message is borrowed by John from Isaiah the prophet. There is power in John’s admonition — “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
According to Luke, John’s message is that in Jesus, “all humankind will see God’s salvation.” “Salvation!” Like so many, I am dissatisfied with the common explanation of what “salvation” means. So here is my feeble effort to articulate a subtle alternative explanation.
The words of Thomas Merton resonate in my soul. “We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.” The Jesuit poet expressed it so well: “the world is charged with the grandeur of God!” If that is accurate, and I believe it is, it means the Gracious Mystery we name God is present in and throughout the entire cosmos.
Advent offers opportunity to ponder this amazing mystery and the gift of life. From birth to childhood, to adolescence, and into adulthood, we change so much. Yet regardless of your age, and through all of your experiences, something about you has remained unchanged. Something in you is now as it ever was. What is that?
For lack of a better image I suggest it is the spark of divinity within you. That spark of divinity in you is the same throughout your entire life. You are a son, a daughter of God.
In proclaiming his life purpose Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life and have it fully.” Those words summarize why and what Jesus is about. He was calling us back home, back to our source — that Gracious Mystery we name God. His life and teaching reveal our deepest inner truth to us and when we engage our deepest, inner truth, we are redeemed/saved. We become fully alive and fully human!
If you are as much like me as I think you are, you perceive and think of yourself as a limited, isolated, separate person. That is why I get irritated with people at the next table in a restaurant when they are loud and noisy. That is why I make no effort to reach out and engage certain individuals for whom I have no respect. In the abstract I readily affirm the deep goodness in each and every person, but then I persist in being less than fully alive and less then fully human.
Thomas Merton realized he is not an isolated, separate human being; that deep down he is essentially one with all that is. Some may call it divine being. Some may call it spirit. Some may call it God. However we name it, our deepest reality is that “we exist and live in God and God in us.” “We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time. Life is this simple!!
“Prepare the way of the Lord.” We are not isolated, separate human beings. There is deep within each and every one of us an eternal radiance, a divine presence. Advent provides a fresh opportunity for us to recognize and allow that spark of divinity to radiate outward. When it does, according to John, “all humankind will see God’s salvation.” I hope this makes sense to you.