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We Are Still Growing Up!

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

The readings for this Second Sunday of Advent remind us that the Kingdom of God is not some pie in the sky place that awaits us in the future. We are the builders of the Kingdom in our midst and what we are building, with the help of God, is ourselves and one another. The Kingdom of God dwells within. We are trying to grow up into the full creature God has created each one of us to be. It’s a huge task and can be a confusing one as well because none of us has ever done it before!

It can be a frustrating task at times because the very moment we think that we have mastered one skill or got one good habit nailed down, two new issues, that we didn’t even conceive of before, jump on stage and call for our attention. We never get done.

It’s like being in elementary school. You work hard to do your very best for what seems like an eternity and finally you graduate from the first grade. Congratulations! All done! And then you have the second grade staring you in the face. After that, third grade and so on. We keep on working, and trying our best, but never finish.

What are we to make of all of this, this being stuck in the in-between state of not being finished, having left the station but not yet arrived? What are we to make of this, especially as we hear the words of John the Baptist shouting at us in today’s Gospel account, “Repent, reform!” What expectations has God placed on us?

God doesn’t expect that we will get everything right the first time. God knows that all we have is our “learner’s permit,” and that learners learn slowly, by trial and error. God knows that we may get tired or distracted or even thoroughly fed up. We will do all of that because all of that is part of growing up, which we are all still doing, no matter what age one might be, we are still growing up!

God expects three things of us: (1) that we hold onto the vision, the plan God has for us and never let the vision or plan get worn down by life; (2) that we attune ourselves to the rhythms of life, since it is through them that God shows us were to go next, and (3) that we never give up, never stop trying, even in the face of repeated failure. Jesus has told us over and over, there is no unforgivable sin, except despair, because despair shuts God out.

With God’s help, the growth will come. Not in a moment or in a day, but in a lifetime. God promises that and ever so slowly we will grow into the full creature God dreamed for us on the day we were born. Remember that every human person is a mystery that must be learned slowly, with great reverence, and will never be learned completely this side of the fullness of life.

 

– Father Dennis
December 4, 2016