Throughout the whole Church year we are given the opportunity to re-live the life, death and resurrection of Jesus over again. Just think about it.
Yes, we all remember that the year begins with Advent, a time of waiting for the Messiah who has come once but will come again. We know that the kingdom of God is here and yet not fully here. So we are living in the in-between times that can create special tensions.
Each year as Advent rolls around, we reflect more deeply on the meaning of the readings the Church offers us. They invite us to listen to the prophets, especially John the Baptist.
JOY AND HOPE
These voices echo in our hearts as we repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord in joy and hope. We feel, within us, the desire to share our cloak with the needy and to reach out to others with the hopeful spirit of Mary's haste to visit her cousin, Elizabeth.
When Christmas arrives, we see our hopes fulfilled: the true Light has come into the world, our God lives with us and in us. With 13th century Bishop Hugh of Chichester and the more recent rock-opera Godspell, we pray "to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly."
As Jesus prepares for his mission by growing in grace and wisdom, we too have a mission and must prepare for it by growing in our knowledge and love of God.
Again, the Church year provides us with the means to do so, as right in mid-January, the Gospel begins to focus on Jesus' public ministry. It continues into Lent with Jesus' 40-day fast in the desert in solidarity with his peoples' sojourn in the desert.
Each Sunday of Lent brings us closer to Jesus in his sufferings, passion and death. We can never forget.
But Jesus didn't stay dead. He conquered sin and death by resurrecting and sending his Spirit upon the disciples and us.
We sometimes seem to forget that, but the disciples didn't.
Just think! Although from the uneducated masses, they had no fear of preaching to the high and mighty. Paul had no fear as he brought the light of the risen Christ to his world.
The Church spends the rest of Ordinary Time reading about Christ's teaching and his miracles of healing and forgiveness of sin.
As he walked the earth 2,000 years ago, so he walks with us today. Plenty of room for reflection to see if we are walking with the suffering poor and bringing them healing with Jesus and as Jesus did.
It's interesting that as we near the close of the Church year, with joyful hearts, we celebrate All Saints and All Souls, feasts of that multitude before us, who lived with hope and faith in the living Christ in their hearts while they laboured in God's kingdom.
Then on the last Sunday before Advent, very appropriately, we celebrate Christ the King. Yes, Christ was victorious. Christ is alive and in charge of the world. We often focus on negative aspects in life. We even tend to almost forget Christ's glorious victory as we focus on Christ's passion and our sinfulness.
A 12th century mystic once said that when we say "Ahhhhh" with a sigh from deep within us at the sight of one of the world's blessings, that "Ahhhhh" is one of God's most beautiful names.
Each morning as we see the day gradually dawning or the magnificent setting of the sun, our reaction should be one of "Ahhhhh" or our modern equivalent, "Wow!"
Just think about it. God gave us all this beauty within the world and within us. We owe it to God to notice these gifts with thanks and praise at every moment of the day.
FULL OF JOY
Our lives should be full of joy and praise for the all-powerful God is with us. Wow! We are given, free of charge, the strength and grace to accomplish God's work on earth.
Christ's message is spread by the hope and joy that shine forth from us. Instead of bemoaning the negative around us, our task is to share that hope and joy with the world as they witness our lives.