A Vincentian View: Back to the Beginning

by | Dec 6, 2023 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

Are you ready for the beginning of a new liturgical year?  The readings of the past month have had an end-of-the-world, final-judgement, apocalyptic feel to them.  All lead up to the Solemnity of Christ the King.  The entire liturgical year culminates in the confession of Christ as Lord and Sovereign of our lives.  One can feel the power and surrender that leads to this point, joined to the affirmation that it elicits from us.

Now, however, with the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new year.  We go back to the stories of an Old Testament people yearning for the coming of the Messiah.  We have this wondrous and hope-filled line at the conclusion of the reading from the prophet Isaiah:

Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

This role of the God of Israel leads to the proclamation of John the Baptist in the following Sundays.  The Advent Season proclaims the story of the Incarnation four times, as the Messiah takes shape within the womb of Mary.  Then, Jesus is born among us–Christmas.

Can it be a challenge for some of us to begin another liturgical year with eagerness—to hear again the stories of Jesus with which we are so familiar?  We are asked to follow him again along the same roads and to meet the same people.  We heed again the experiences of the miracles that he performed and the discourses that he preached.  Seemingly, none of these arrive as surprises to us.

Can it be that as we grow older, we become so attuned to the words and works of Jesus that we stop being moved?  We are not intentionally choosing to close our ears, but there may be a limit to our attention.  Really, how often do we read the same book or attend the same movie?  Even if this is not our attitude, can it have this unintended effect?

Marcus Borg wrote a book some years ago that has a title that consistently captures my imagination and lifts up my thinking.  I wonder how I would write that text.  The name of the book is “Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time.”  (I have often spoken about it.). One can discern the cleverness of the seeming contradiction.  How often do I need to meet Jesus again in the same places, doing the same things, speaking the same words?  How different is, and needs to be, each experience?  How am I changed by the encounter as if, for the first time, I am really present and listening with eyes and ears wide open?

The Liturgical Calendar summons us to renew our commitment and devotion to Christ as we begin each year—to meet him again for the first time.  We pray for hearts that are awake and sober.  What a blessing!

1 Comment

  1. Tom M