Fr. Hardon on the 3 Advents and Eternal Christmas
I think in the spirit of the day, where it seems everyone is caught up in the fairy tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes, it is worthy to bring some sound backwards, rigid, and out-of-date meditations by Fr. Hardon to the fore front. You’ve heard the story of the Emperor who was suckered by the clothiers, and when marching out to parade his new attire, most people began praising the stylish threads that weren’t. We are met with one child that declared what he saw for what it was, “the emperor has no clothes.” While that is the point that is usually discussed the most, there’s another part of the story — the Emperor carried on despite the truth! Another thing never really discussed is that we can be sure that some adult probably said “I don’t see his clothes” and people around him likely insulted him as not being with the times, or being mean… There really isn’t a resolution to that fable. The child was right and the truth was spoken, but everyone went along with the charade. So it is today.
Despite all of the whirlwind of the parades and carnival barking foisted upon us these days, there are truths about the season and about Christmas lost in the noise today. I’m sure the temple, at the time of the first Christmas had plenty of intrigues — we hear about them in the Gospels, and we hear Our Lord’s opinions of them — He came to straighten them out Himself. So it will be with this mess. Let’s do what we ought to do in this mess, and be ready for Him.
Read along with this:
We shall never die. And if there is one definition of secularism, and there are many, that I think most appropriately describes the unbelieving mind, it is the mind which looks at everything in this world as finally coming to an end, and that when we die, we are dead. And that’s the end. I know what I am saying. I know I am speaking to people who have meditated on many mysteries.
Let me share with you the plea to ask God to teach you to see ever more clearly the meaning of this life as only the prelude to a life that will begin the moment the world tells us we end.
Looking upon this life as a coming, Christ’s advent, it is then still to be fulfilled. He is coming, and he will infallibly come. Now, why is the word come so meaningful? And as we talk about mischief, we are lost for words, because we are scratching on granite, trying to comprehend the incomprehensible. But cheap words. Coming. Come. Advent. To somehow penetrate the mystery of God’s coming to call us, because he wants us. That will be the real beginning. I don’t hesitate saying, because we have the faith behind us, to affirm that in a true sense. Though we have begun to live, we shall really begin to really live when those who don’t have our faith tell us we shall die. We begin to live that life for which we were, and I repeat the adverb, really made.
How it will help us, I speak as one well informed, how it will help us to face the trials, as we call them, of life, if we are clear in our vision that this is only a prelude, that life, true life, real life, the blessed life, the life for which God made us, will begin the moment we close our eyes in death. And that consequently, as I’m sure you’ve said many times to yourselves, as I have to myself, so what? What difference does this make in the light of eternity? And to say this to ourselves, not to someone else, to ourselves, but to live it, believe me, everything changes in the degree in which we anticipate that life which we shall live, we know, when, allegedly, we die.
But there is one more mystery, and this is the third advent, our rebirth in body. The same God who created our souls when we were first conceived in our mother’s womb will reunite that soul with our human body on what we call the last day, what should call the first day of the universe. We do not often use this language, but it is perfectly correct doctrinally. We do believe, with all the proper qualifications, in reincarnation. Sure we do. Our souls are going to become reincarnated. Not, of course, in a long or endless cycle of births, deaths, and rebirths, which as you know is the belief of most of the oriental non-Christian world. Buddha, for example, believed that his existence was the one hundred thousandth, and many Hindus don’t look forward to anything better in their next existence than to be in a higher caste than the one into which they have, unfortunately, just been born, so they console themselves with another rebirth, and another rebirth, and so on, on, and on. That’s not our faith. Our reincarnation, to use the word, will be in a single event which will take place only once, and will never, thank God, reoccur.
Who in his right Christian mind would want to go through this again? Lord, thanks.
So we believe we were born, body and soul. We shall die, body and body. So that, really, on close analysis, it is incorrect to say we shall die. Right? Our body dies. And it’s only a concession to the secularist outlook and the culture in which we live, that we talk about people dying. No human being dies. His body does. We shall then also be reborn in body when the same Jesus who was born at Bethlehem and rose from the dead in Jerusalem, will raise us from the grave. More accurately, we won’t be in the grave. Not a very comforting outlook. Our bodies will be in the grave. He will therefore raise our bodies to rejoin our spirits, and never to be separated again.
Consequently, the season of Advent, which I suggest we anticipate, we better, because the whole of our lives is an Advent. The liturgical season is, however, at once a memorial, a warning, and a hope.
It is a memorial to remind us of what occurred when God became man and was born of the Virgin Mary.
It is also, however, a warning to tell us to be prepared, because we know not the day or the hour, and Christ might have added, or the minute or the second, of Christ’s second coming, and we must be ready.
It is finally a hope to promise us that Christ will come a third time, at the end of time, and call us to join him and his Mother and the Saints, canonized and otherwise, in that heavenly home where all Advent will cease, and there will be only an endless Christmas day.
Jesus, Son of Mary, help me to prepare for your coming in all these ways, by giving my heart entirely to you. Let this generosity of mine be my coming to you, as you with your grace are so constantly coming to me.
Thanks again for listening. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.Hardon, John A., SJ Meditation on Christ’s Coming, Nov. 1974.
That Father begins this segment with a comparison to secularism and its focus on the material world is only the much better for the times we live in. As we wind up one of the shortest advents possible, let us take a moment to recall that Jesus is coming… all the shenanigans and noise of our day cannot remove the simple facts that God became Man, and He is the head of the Church. Be like a shepherd with me… shepherds probably didn’t know all the nuances of the city life and the noise of high affairs in the temple at that time… They just waited for the Coming of the Savior, and one night, from out of nowhere it would have seemed, angels announced to them that He was here… Come, Lord Jesus!
This article, Fr. Hardon on the 3 Advents and Eternal Christmas is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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