To all the brothers and sisters of the Oases – Realities of
Koinonia John the Baptist
Christ is risen!
Dear sister, dear brother,
The readings in the Liturgies of Advent speak to us in two ways. On the one hand, they speak of the long wait for the first coming of the Messiah among us. On the other hand, they remind us that we live in that period of ‘already and not yet’. Across the arc of history, this second aspect, which regards the Second Coming of Jesus, has been intriguing and problematic, challenges caused by the excessive subjectivism of facts and events that cross the whole of Christian history.
Every Sunday in the Creed, inspired by the words of the Master, The Church calls us to proclaim, “He will come again in glory”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also speaks of the return of Christ in paragraph 675. It explains that, before Christ’s return in glory, the Church will have to confront “…a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh”. In the context of an eschatological discourse (regarding His Second Coming), Jesus strongly appeals to us, when He says: “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Lk 12:56).
The Master, as well as condemning hypocrisy, an attitude that finds fertile soil in the religious context, spurs us to discern the times in which we are living. As such, He encourages us to discern what is happening in this precise moment of history to follow Him authentically. In fact, there is the risk that we transform into hypocritical Christians, that pretend to be what, in truth, we are not.
In the context of preparing for the feast of Christmas, I would like to start with Jesus’ question and underline an unsettling fact that, more than anything, bears witness to the critical urgency of these times. Notwithstanding increased living standards, this fact more than anything points to its decline: the widespread closure to life. It is now evident that believers in Jesus are in the minority and in Western culture only the presumption of knowing Christ remains. It is true that these countries adopt typically evangelical concepts, such as life, liberty, love, unity etc. but, in reality, with definitions that differ from their Christian meaning.
This tendency, unfortunately, has become characteristic of those cultures that were inspired by the revelation of God as a baby. These should be the cultures most open to life, as they indeed were until a few decades ago. This shift is a thermometer of faith in our societies, denoting a lack of trust in Divine Providence, a lack of faith in Eternal Life and thinking first of ourselves and our immediate well-being. This can be summarised with one word: egoism, in which the ego is placed at the heart and holds patronage over each person’s life and his or her future.
We cannot fail to recognise that some of these aspects, described by the Catechism as pseudo-messianism, already reign in the mentality of today. However, closure to life, in the name of liberty and emancipation, can never be justified. It automatically becomes closure to God, who is the Author of Life. And a society that founds its actions on a temporal vision alone, a vision that excludes transcendence, is destined to decline. It is only a question of time, and we are already witnessing it.
Dearest friends, life should not be taken for granted, as we are reminded by our patron John the Baptist, who came to be despite it seeming impossible. Life is always a gift, from conception to death. It must be fostered, protected and lived to the full, with all this contains.
Let’s remember this, especially in this period of Advent. Let’s promote life at a family, community, church and political level, without ambiguity and without hypocrisy. By welcoming life, we welcome the Child that is born for us.
It’s true that we cannot know the time of the coming of Jesus in glory, but one thing is certain: He will return, and our attitude must be to wait for Him every day. Just as Paul teaches us: Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
I sincerely wish all of you a blessed Christmas and a prosperous new year.
Even Sapir, 25th November 2022
Fr. Giuseppe De Nardi