SFX Bulletin, 7 December 2014 In many of our offices, we have tiered trays for what needs our immediate attention and what can wait. Memos needing immediate attention are placed in the “Urgent” tray while everything else usually ends up in “Pending”. “Pending” documents almost always never get attended to and if they are acted on, it is usually because someone has called up to enquire on its progress or completion.
In this season of Advent, Mother Church is that “someone” prompting us to check again if our spiritual lives should be in “Urgent” rather than “Pending”. She reminds us not to be caught up with the temporal but to live with life’s end in mind. As such, we are reminded time and again, just as we are in today’s gospel, to live in the new reality of the Good News - that “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk.1:1) has come to earth to help us in our earthly pilgrimage by giving us the Holy Spirit but are we co-operating with him in a prayer-filled life? (cf.Mk1:8).
Bible scholars say Mark’s gospel writes of Jesus with an “apocalyptic urgency” – the fast-pace of the gospel taking us through Jesus’ miracles, preaching, healing are meant to communicate the urgency of being certain that Jesus is the Son of God and has come to help us prepare well for Judgement Day or his Second Coming. The historic event of Jesus’ coming is of such a magnitude of grace that the Catechism says, “God acted far beyond all expectation – he has sent his own ‘beloved Son’” (CCC422).
Atheist-turned-Christian-apologist, CS Lewis, who is famed for his Narnia chronicles, wrote in “Mere Christianity”, that no one can be asked about Jesus and not make one of three choices, “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse”. Lewis’ conclusion, in examining the facts on Jesus and moved by God’s grace, concluded, “...it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God”.
CS Lewis’ “trilemma” lies before everyone – is Jesus “Lord”, “Lunatic” or “Liar”? If he is Lunatic or Liar, then Jesus was just an unfortunate first century side-show gone wrong by crucifixion. However, if our answer is “Lord, Son of God”, then, surely, our entire view of life – our own lives and those of our loved ones and everything we do on this earth must now be re-oriented towards him and what he is asking of us? For in acknowledging Jesus as Lord, the Son of God, we are also acknowledging an immense privilege and honour – that God who is all holy has disregarded his supremacy to come to meet and talk to us through the incarnate Jesus. Yet, we had not welcomed him but had put him to death.
The God who died for us continues to give himself to us in the Eucharist and patiently waits for our friendship and love. This patience has now lasted nearly 2,000 years! The writer of Second Peter (today’s 2nd reading) tells us that each new day is yet another day of God’s mercy and grace to live “holy and saintly lives” and be “without spot or stain” (2 Pt. 3:11-13). God’s “slowness” on fulfilling the Second Coming reflects God’s amazing patience because he wants nobody to be lost and everybody to be brought to change his ways (cf. 2 Pt.3:9).
So let us not assume there will be tomorrow, “The Day of the Lord will come like a thief…the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up” (2 Pt.3:12). Whether this “burning up” is literal or not, we are being alerted that “the final age of the world is with us” and that we must do our part to grow in our understanding of and participation in what the Spirit wants to do for us through the Sacraments (cf. CCC1210).
So where will we put the dossier on “Jesus Christ – Son of God”? “URGENT” or “PENDING”? May we make the choice that joins us with the Church’s constant prayer, “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!” (CCC2817).