(The Nationalist, 5 December 2003)
There lots of bad news around, but there’s good news, too: ‘Stand erect, hold your heads high, because your salvation is near at hand,’ says Jesus. What is salvation? It is being freed from all that diminishes us, especially sin and death. Jesus offers salvation from sin, that is to say,
– from self-centeredness, self-satisfaction, self-sufficiency, from the choking, stifling, self-destructive narrowness which is selfishness; at the heart of every sin is the choice of the self over the other;
– the difference between self-centeredness and other-centeredness is like the difference between a whirlpool and a fountain;
– ‘You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts will know no rest until they rest in you’, wrote Saint Augustine.
Salvation from death:
– not only death, the end of life, but the death of life, that is, when hope and meaning die, when there is no sense of direction or purpose, but only futility;
– Jesus gives us hope and a basis for it, not wishful thinking;
Go with him, be open to him, he is the answer to our hopes.
– we can overcome our fears, and live up to our potential;
– we can throw away the masks we hide behind, because he accepts us as we are, sinners;
– we need not be burdened by guilt – not because we aren’t guilty, we are – but because he comes to forgive, to heal, to reconcile;
– we can stand erect, hold our heads high and live up to our best;
– we can see ourselves in truth and not be afraid;
– we can recognize that we are children of God.
This is not only for the future but also for the present.
Jesus is present here and now:
– in his people: ‘I am with you always, even to the end of the world.’
– in his word, in the Bible: ‘This is the word of the Lord.’
– in his creation: ‘through the beauty and grandeur of creation, we contemplate its Author.’ (Wisdom 13.5)
– in the community of faith: ‘He who hears you, hears me’.
– wherever two or three are gathered together in his name.
– in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the real presence.
– in conscience: informed and sincere.