It’s not over yet…: Weekly Message for 12-22-2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

There are a little over two days left of Advent before we begin to celebrate in the dark of Christmas Eve the arrival of a new Light of hope in the birth of Our Savior. Advent is not over yet, although the last-minute chores for Christmas are certainly daunting, and Advent, even in its last days for this year, is a great opportunity to prepare ourselves once again for the gift of hope we received on the baby Jesus’ birthday. 

2020 has been a trying year in so many senses: a pandemic that is stretching from one flu season to another, social unrest over injustices past and present, political parties painting the future as apocalyptic if their side does not prevail, all aggravated by our inability to go out and get together for school, work, leisure, and worship without taking precautions.

The trials of this year are the perfect backdrop for living Advent well. They remind us, as Advent is meant to remind us, that in one moment of human history we were lost, without hope and apparently without God, with no salvation on the horizon. Pope Benedict XVI named his encyclical on hope Spe Salvi, taking the expression from St. Paul:

“SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey… (n.1).

If the liturgical seasons represent the march of salvation history, Advent represents a long and prolonged anxiety regarding the future, an apparently hopeless future, but also a time filled with the promise of future salvation. The Lord’s words to the serpent in Eden, just after the Fall of Adam and Eve, are called a proto-Gospel by the Church fathers:

The Lord God said to the serpent… “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:14,15)

A long time passed from that moment in salvation history to the birth of the Savior, but that whole time the Lord promised that the son of “the woman,” believed to refer to Mary, would crush the head of the serpent. A lot of serpents have raised their heads this year, but Our Lord has already crushed the serpent-in-chief. All we have to do is trust in him and believe in him. Advent reminds us that definitive salvation will come, and it is more powerful than pandemics, social injustice, or political incertitude.

May the Lord bless you in these last days of Advent with a faith and hope that helps you face whatever the present holds.

Father Nikola Derpich, L.C.
Maximizing the Mass

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