The Way, the Truth, and Life

12-05-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the ways we come to see what those who have lived before us experienced is to read history. We read about different kinds of governments, advances in technology, and problems they faced and how they dealt with them. Other than the perfection of the Garden of Eden, which was short lived because of human sinfulness, there has never been a form of government or moral code that all people have come to see and embrace as THE way to live. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Luke 3:1-6) we see St. Luke giving us the political environment into which Jesus and John the Baptist were born. Tiberius Caesar, Pontus Pilate, and Herod are names that are familiar to us because they were people who had a role in how Jesus was received. They were pagans and had no interest in changing their way of life or leading the people they ruled in a new direction. Jesus was not seen as a gift but sadly as a nuisance to be executed.

Our time in this world is 2,000 years after the birth and death of Jesus. The gift and blessing of faith opens our minds and hearts to the gift Jesus is for us and for all those who have embraced Him before us and handed down the faith to us. In each of the first readings for these four Sundays of Advent, we have a different prophet speaking to us about the hopes God promised to fulfill for His people. Last Sunday the prophet Jeremiah spoke of the savior God would send who will bring security and peace to His people. Today the prophet Baruch speaks of how God will bring His people back from exile, exile caused by their lack of faith in Him.

Even though we live more than 2,000 years after the prophets spoke and 2,000 years since the birth of Jesus, we still need to be reminded of the gift our life is and how we can live our lives to the fullest in this world and have the hope of eternal life when we die. Jesus came to bring us the peace we can only find when we live in the very image in which we are created, the image and likeness of God. Jesus did not come to give us a “piece of His mind” in anger and frustration but to give us the peace of His heart. It is His peace that enlightens and inspires us and enables us every day to live with hope, purpose, and conviction. We have our own personal faults and failures, we hear constant criticism and anger in the media, we carry the crosses of sickness and death of loved ones. There is no lack of negativity that can all too easily cause us to be sarcastic, frustrated, fearful, and disappointed. That is very much like the world Jesus came into 2,000 years ago. But He is our Savior. In Him we see how He embraced us with His unconditional love, endured the injustice and death of the cross, but rose and came back to assure us of the life-giving power of his loving presence. In the Sacrament of Holy Communion we have the one promised by the prophets, the one who fulfilled the hopes of all people of all time. All we have to do is to believe. Our problems will not all go away nor will our challenges and questions cease. But through, with and in Jesus we have our Savior, we have our light, we have THE Way, THE Truth, and THE Life. True faith in Him puts HIs peace in our hearts that is the foundation of all we say, do, and think every day.

I offer Psalm 23 for your prayerful reflection.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit.

He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in
the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with
your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort.

You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

Surely goodness and kindness
shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord's own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be. Amen.

Psalm Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Shepherd of your Church, you give us new birth in the waters of Baptism; you anoint us with oil, and call us to salvation at your table. Dispel the terrors of death and the darkness of error. Lead your people along safe paths, that they may rest securely in you and live for ever in your Father's house.