Reflection for 3rd Sunday of Advent
My dear Friends:
Third Sunday of Advent! Preparing some hand-outs for Tuesday evening’s Hope session, I opened some of my notes on the great Jewish scholar, Abraham Heschel. For Heschel, awe, wonder and radical amazement of God are the vital keys to open the doors to an intimate, earth-moving and world-changing, experience of God: Awe is more than an emotion; it is a way of understanding, insight into a meaning greater than ourselves. The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe.
It is this awe which motivates and transforms us. It heals, restores and fills us with love, compassion and hope. The word Religion has its origins in the Latin word ‘religare’ which means ‘to bind’ or connect. It is by our being ‘bound’ or ‘connected’ in awe and wonder to the immensity of God and his love, that we can experience transformation within ourselves and within our world. Heschel says ‘awareness of the divine, begins with wonder’… Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion-its message becomes meaningless. Religion is an answer to humanity's ultimate questions. [We need] to rediscover the questions to which religion is an answer.
Perhaps we can open ourselves in these days before we celebrate Christ’s birth to the awe and wonder of His love for us. It is then we shall be truly connected and bound to him.
Love, Peace and Blessings, Fr. Antony