Day 14 (Dec 10) Rejoice & The Cause of our Failure (Advent Meditation)
1. The time of preparation is a mingled period of penance and of joy. Of penance, by reason of our sins, which have removed us so far away from God; of joy, at the prospect of being brought near to Him once more through Jesus Christ. On mid-Advent, as on mid-Lent Sunday, it is the joyful side of the matter that comes before us. More than this, joy is insisted upon as a duty. It seems strange that the command to rejoice should be necessary. Do not all men love joy and seek after it unbidden? One thing it shows, that God desires that we should be full of joy. Thank Him for this merciful intention, and try and carry it out.
2. Yet it is not all kinds of joy that are recommended to us. There are many kinds of joy that the Apostle would be far from recommending. To rejoice in the world is but a sorry kind of joy, on account of its transitory character. Gaudete in Domino, says the Apostle — “Rejoice in the Lord.” This is the only joy that lasts, and the only joy that is really worth the having.
3. What does St. Paul, mean by rejoicing in the Lord? He means the joy that is the result of such a love of God as makes us simply wish that His will should be done in all things, and that feels positive joy in seeing the accomplishment of the divine will, quite apart from any personal advantage or disadvantage that may accrue to ourselves. This is the secret of true joy, for then what befalls ourselves is a matter of indifference to us. Be it weal or woe, success or failure, we rejoice in it simply because it is what God has ordained for us. This is the meaning of Our Lord’s words, “Your joy no man taketh from you.”
The Cause of our Failure
He that shall sin, shall hate his own soul. (Prov. viii. 36.)
Hitherto we have been speaking of the means of reaching the end for which we were created and in which alone we shall find true and lasting satisfaction. We now come to the cause of our failure, and the obstacles in our way.
1. There is only one obstacle in our way, only one real hindrance to our progress towards happiness and peace, only one barrier between us and God. This obstacle is sin. As long as it remains it is an insuperable obstacle. A single mortal sin unrepented of will shut me out forever from the presence of God. A single venial sin unatoned for will prevent me from attaining to happiness until the debt has been paid.
2. What do we mean by sin? We mean any conscious violation of the law of God. Whenever we do that which God has declared to be a serious offense against Him, we become the enemies of God, we forfeit all hope of heaven, except as far as God of His gratuitous compassion may afterwards give us the grace to repent and be forgiven. Have I ever thus lost sight of God and of Heaven? And if so, am I sure that I have regained His love?
3. Why is sin so terrible? Because it is an outrage on a God of infinite holiness, of infinite majesty. Because it is an act of ingratitude to one who has laden us with benefits, who loves us with a love that surpasses all bound or measure; because it is a deliberate rejection of the divine friendship, and, as far as we are concerned, forever.
Pray for a hatred and detestation of sin.
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