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The Second Sunday of Advent – December 6, 2020

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

The Second Sunday of Advent – December 6, 2020

(Isaiah 40: 1 – 5, 9 – 11; Ps 85; 2 Peter 3: 8 – 14; Mark 1: 1 – 8)

The Prophet Isaiah, the voice of Advent rings out: “Here is your God! He comes with power. Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; He gathers…He carries…He feeds!” We hear in this proclamation: urgency, movement, love, passion and presence…because “Our God comes!”

It has become a custom in our community to have the Blessed Sacrament exposed for 10 minutes after Vespers. The primary reason is to have us pray for vocations to our community and secondarily, for our own personal intentions. With the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance, we are caught up in a very sacred time with a very special intention.

What strikes me and, perhaps, you too is the atmosphere in our church: very subdued lighting, a spotlight on the monstrance, a single lighted candle next to the tabernacle and the stillness of the monks – now and then, a cough, a movement but more often than not – stillness and peace. We sit or kneel before Our Lord; with the Lord Jesus hidden and enthroned in consecrated bread – there is a divine stillness, no sound, no movement – yet, really and truly present.

And during these 10 minutes, the proclamation of the Prophet Isaiah is never more true: “Here is your God! He comes with power. Like a shepherd He feeds His flock; He gathers…He carries…He feeds!” The Lord Jesus is never passive, never inactive in His presence – the love of the Lord is always movement, always power, always embracing.

Whether the Blessed Sacrament is solemnly exposed or majestically hidden in the Tabernacle in our church or any Catholic church, the love of the Lord is the same; there is always movement, passion and presence. Through our presence to the Real Presence, this divine love penetrating deeper in us than feelings gathers, carries and leads us because the Lord is steadfast, faithful, incomprehensibly generous in His merciful love – the divine Shepherd.

What keeps us coming back to worship, what keeps coming back to receive, what keeps us in our faith, in our conviction that the Lord is present? It is not a what – rather it is a who! It is certainly the Lord gathering, carrying, leading us to Himself – there is no other answer because the Lord Jesus, in his own words “…draws us to Himself.” Before the Blessed Sacrament there is a meeting of two realities: there is our humanness and we confess with John the Baptist our unworthiness “I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of His sandals” and there is divinity who sees our unworthiness as never an obstacle to His merciful love.

The love of the Lord gathers, carries, and leads; it is more, much more than bringing us into His presence, from one place to another. Within each one of us the Lord is gathering together, making one the various movements of our hearts, is carrying each one with a strength, a power to overcome our sinfulness, is leading each one from darkness into light, from untruth into truth, from the narrowness of self-absorption into the spaciousness of God-absorption. How often Jesus addressed a needy person, “What do you seek?” Hopefully, we can say, “I seek you to gather, carry, lead me”.

In faith we come in need and in faithfulness He, who is present in merciful power, embraces, raises, completes, welcomes us. There is no sound, only a divine stillness – this is our God