A sermon by St. Bernard
Let the word of the Lord come to us
We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are. At his first coming the Lord was seen on earth and lived among men, who saw him and hated him. At his last coming All flesh shall see the salvation of our God, and They shall look on him whom they have pierced. In the middle, the hidden coming, only the chosen see him, and they see him within themselves; and so their souls are saved. The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.
This middle coming is like a road that leads from the first coming to the last. At the first, Christ was our redemption; at the last, he will become manifest as our life; but in this middle way he is our rest and our consolation.
If you think that I am inventing what I am saying about the middle coming, listen to the Lord himself: If anyone loves me, he will keep my words, and the Father will love him, and we shall come to him. Elsewhere I have read: Whoever fears the Lord does good things. – but I think that what was said about whoever loves him was more important: that whoever loves him will keep his words. Where are these words to be kept? In the heart certainly, as the Prophet says I have hidden your sayings in my heart so that I do not sin against you. Keep the word of God in that way: Blessed are those who keep it. Let it penetrate deep into the core of your soul and then flow out again in your feelings and the way you behave; because if you feed your soul well it will grow and rejoice. Do not forget to eat your bread, or your heart will dry up. Remember, and your soul will grow fat and sleek.
If you keep God’s word like this, there is no doubt that it will keep you, for the Son will come to you with the Father: the great Prophet will come, who will renew Jerusalem, and he is the one who makes all things new. For this is what this coming will do: just as we have been shaped in the earthly image, so will we be shaped in the heavenly image. Just as the old Adam was poured into the whole man and took possession of him, so in turn will our whole humanity be taken over by Christ, who created all things, has redeemed all things, and will glorify all things.
Prepare our hearts, Lord, by the power of your grace. / When Christ comes, / may he find us worthy / to receive from his hand the bread of / heaven / at the feast of eternal life.
Sometimes, in the middle of the busy satisfactions of everyday life, we might be tempted to wonder whether or not we really want Christ to come and transform the world as we know it. Then we remember the harsh realities of sickness, hunger, suffering, and death. Who does not long then for the everlasting riches of God’s house, given to us through the mercy of Christ our Shepherd and Savior? – Magnificat, Dec 6, 2017
St. Bernard reminds us, in this sermon, that God’s invitation is an open one, inviting us in and through his son, Jesus Christ. We must only allow our hearts to be open to receive, and it is the Holy Spirit who will act through this act of our desire to be a guest in the household of God.
St. Bernard de Clairvaux, (born 1090, probably Fontaine-les-Dijon, near Dijon, Burgundy [France]–died August 20, 1153, Clairvaux, Champagne; canonized January 18, 1174; feast day August 20), Cistercian monk and mystic, the founder and abbot of the abbey of Clairvaux and one of the most influential churchmen of his time. Source: www.britannica.com
The first Sunday and week of Advent
In her wisdom, the Catholic Church sets aside the season of Advent as a time for the Christian faithful to refresh, refocus and reexamine. It is a time we are meant to ask ourselves: How is the state of my soul? Am I prepared for the coming of Christ? As we hear from the Prophet Isaiah in the readings of the first Sunday of Advent, are we like polluted rags, have we all withered like leaves? Or would that our Lord meet us doing right, that we are mindful of Him in our ways (cf Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7)?
Advent truly is a season of waiting, but one of active waiting. As St. Paul exhorts us, as he did his brothers and sisters in Corinth, we must keep firm to the end, as we were called to fellowship with God’s son, Jesus Christ (Cor 1:3-9). Therefore, this anticipation of the Christ Child, the long-awaited Messiah, foretold by the Jewish prophets, whom we will receive on Christmas Day, must be anticipated in a sense of watchfulness, alertness, for we truly do not know when the time will come when the lord of the house is coming (Mk 13:13-37). So, this Advent, we are reminded again, as in every year: “Watch!” And we are invited to prepare our hearts, to open our minds, for the arrival of the Infant Jesus, who from Bethlehem, the City of Bread, will become for us the Bread of Life – thanks be to God!
How will I prepare (how will my family prepare) for the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, The Christ this year?
Let our hearts be open and may He find his rest there, in our hearts, as he rested in the manger with Mary and Joseph. So it is with hope, faith, peace and joy may we actively participate in Christ’s arrival during this beautiful season of Advent.
Holy Family pray for us … Amen.