Chase our faith? I mean by that those of us who are not content to “believe in God,” attend church now and then (mostly weddings and funerals and perhaps midnight Mass and Easter), and otherwise give lip service to faith. We are out there seeking, running God down and demanding with humility but sincere intensity, “I want a relationship with YOU!”
Today we welcomed and accepted into our community those seeking full admission into the Church and full communion with God. The Catechumenates and Candidates were presented at Mass, and we promised to “stand with you and pray for you, child of God”. They received the sign of the cross upon their foreheads, eyes, mouths, shoulders, hands and feet. They were presented bibles. They are entering the final few months before reception into the Church at the Easter Vigil.
I remember the time well. It was more exciting that I can tell you. Along with all the preparations for the holidays, the shopping, the parties, the decorating, baking, wrapping, and so forth, there was all this wonderful mysterious, glorious newness–the new person I was becoming. I was awed, humbled, bubbling with excitement and joy. I couldn’t wait for the next week, the next class, the next opportunity to grow in knowledge and faith.
I saw that in the eyes of the assembled class today. The shining eyes, the bright smiles, the reverence. It was all there, and took me back to those days. That in fact is a good reason for doing this ceremony in public. We are all reminded of our days of preparation for full communion with the Church.
It is no accident that the timing of all this coincides with Advent, the annual time of preparation of the entire Christendom for the coming of the Lord. As our Catechumenates and Candidates stand in a special relationship with Jesus– actively preparing to be joined to him in the most intimate and perfect way, they also join in the Church’s preparation. Doubly blessed!
We, the congregation, also get to recall our own time in similar shoes, as I have said, and we too join this with the entire Church in her readying for our Savior.
We prepare our secular lives, and we prepare our spiritual lives. We are all about preparing. In our readings today, Isaiah reminds us of the Kingdom to come when our Lord returns. Paul in Romans, tells us that our preparing is done by way of “putting on the mind of Christ,” in other words, by treating others in the “same friendly way as Christ treated you.”
Matthew concludes with the teaching of John the Baptist, who called all to repentance in preparation. Thus we know what to look for, and what to do.
We leave the Church on Sunday, renewed, refreshed, and joyous. Our steps are a little livelier, our smiles a bit broader. We are kinder and more gentle with friends, strangers and family. We have a secret.
We are not just preparing the feast, the gifts, the parties. We are in an intimate and beautiful dance with the Lord as we confide in him, feel his steady comfort and guidance. It is all so very special and personal. Every Christmas light takes on a special twinkle, we find ourselves misting up at the silliest of things.
We know that the Lord is close. We are walking on holy ground.