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November 21, 1997     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestem Indiana I Who is this "divine" Lord a us?: By FATHER EUGENE Christ's coming in divine glory, just as LAVERDIERE, S.S.S. John the Baptist prepared Christ's first Catholic News Service coming. m The fourth Sunday of Advent: We The season of Advent is all about God focus on welcoming the divine presence bringing divinity to our human world -- in our midst, as Mary conceived and about God being with us. gave birth to the Son of God. Imagine the Christian world without In Advent we celebrate the human and the season of Advent! the divine. Divinity is what differentiates Imagine a human world without divine hope! On the four Sundays of Advent, we focus on the coming of Christ, the divine fulfillment of our deepest human hopes and dreams. Jesus makes a difference in our world. In the season of Advent, we hope and pray that he comes fully among us. Imagine a world without Jesus! Imagine if Jesus never had been born, lived among us, given his life for us or risen from the dead and ascended to heaven. Christianity would not exist. The New Testament would not have been written. There would be no Christmas. Without Jesus, the Son of God, we would think of God very differently.As both human and divine, Jesus shows us who God is in human terms. But just imagine if Jesus had abandoned us when he ascended to heaven. The church would not exist. Nor would the sacra- ments. Without Jesus' abiding presence, God would seem remote. In and through the church, the sacraments and every Chris- tian, Jesus Christ is present among us. Still, imagine if we did not have a solid hope that Jesus would come again, pro- gressively until he is fully present among us. Without such hope, Christian history would be without direction. And there would be no Advent. The first Sunday of Advent: This is when we focus on the coming of Christ, divine fulfillment of our deepest human hopes and dreams. The second and third Sundays of Advent: Now we focus on preparing God from humanity and every other form of life. The divine Creator of the universe and everything in it and the divine Lord of history: That is who God is. As Creator and Lord of history, God could be an overwhelming force in the world. But God creates and rules out of "The first Sunday of Advent: This is when we focus on the coming of Christ- mas ("the Word made flesh") .... The second and third Sundays of Advent: Now we focus on preparing Christ's coming in glory.... The fourth Sunday of Advent: We focus on welcoming the divine presence in our midst," says Blessed Sacrament Father Eugene LaVerdiere, a Scripture scholar. I CNS photo by Bill Whitman gracious love. We should of tl3at very often. The a loving We know the divine from tures. Take for example the revelation of the as told in the Moses was tending the father-in-law by Mount mountain of God, when he that was aflame but without sumed. " Coming to the bush, MoseS voice of God: "Moses! . . Come no nearer! Remove from your feet, for the stand is holy ground." Moses covered his face, was afraid to look at God. presence can be over human being. When God asked Moses pharaoh and to lead the Egypt, Moses asked for response was "I AM," that is, you. God is the one who is and the entire people. God's divinity could for us. be close to us. And that One of my favorite li ture comes from the Gospel: "And the Word and made his dwellin Whenever I read this tively look at my Word that was in the Word that was with God, the was God -- became flesh. Flesh: If you cut it, it bang it, it bruises. Still, became flesh" in the In order to be I AM with became flesh. Jesus is God- Jesus, the divinit) with humanity. That says God. It also says a lot human. People say it is divine the letter to the Phili See Advent prepares for a glorious return By FATHER JOHN J. CASTELOT Catholic News Service No definition of God is offered in the Bible, but that is not surprising. God can- not be squeezed into a neat little formu- la. If that is true of God, it is true also of what we call "divinity." Divinity is prop- er to God alone, who is unique, tran- scendent. No wonder the notion of Christ's divinity was mind-boggling to his first disciples. They were Jewish, strict monotheists. Were they to imagine Jesus as another "God" besides Yahweh? It was their experience of the risen Christ that led them to his divinity. In the beginning, during his public ministry, Jesus was a mystery even to his disciples. Of course, they had firsthand experhfmce Of his superlative goodness and miraculous powers. But did miracles "prove" the divinity of the miracle worker for them? It seems that what the miracles indicated to them was that Jesus was an agent of God's healing power. Even his calming of the storm at sea led only to a sense of awe on their part: "Who is this whom even wind and sea obey?" (Mark 4:41) Jesus baffled people -- until the resur- rection. But afterward the Gospel writers reflected on Jesus' life in light of this won- derful event. The Gospels, then, are liter- ally the good news of what God accom- plished for humanity in Christ Jesus. The evangelist Mark started his Gospel with these words: "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (the Son of GOd)" (Mark 1:1). Mark clearly stated his faith in the divine sonship of Jesus and wrote in the light of that faith. Such faith is at its most explicit in John's Gospel, which speaks confidently of Christ's existence from all eternity and records several instances when Jesus says bluntly: "I am." Those words, "I am," are a form of the divine name. We read, "When you lift up the SOn of Man, then you will realize that I am..." (John 8:28). The evangelist Luke composed a sec- ond volume w the Acts of the Apostles to express his conviction that Jesus' career did not end with his death and glorification, but continues in his fol- lowers' lives. Matthew stated this same truth at the end of his Gospel: "Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20). And at the end of the age? In many ways, the New Testament testifies to the belief that the risen Lord will return to establish the reign he inaugurated by his life, death and resurrection. It is for this glorious retU fit Advent season prepares. in time was a promise and second coming. Father Castelot is a Scriptur author, teacher and lecturer. Nutshell :: ' di " : God s .vu i!,i:)i,::,:,:ii:,!ii:ii,:/,!i/'/i ' ,