Guild of St. Peter ad Vincula  

 

For the Restoration of Catholic Tradition

 

The Sunday Sermon

Contributions from the Clergy of the Guild

Rejoice, Ye Gentiles!

2nd Sunday in Advent

 

During the thousands of years since the original sin of Adam, God had sent prophets to his chosen people.  They foretold the coming of a Messiah, a Saviour who would redeem Israel from all his iniquities.  And so the Jewish people waited.  They waited in expectation of the fulfillment of these prophecies.  They lived in hope until finally, in the reign of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus, there came upon the midnight clear the joyous declaration by the herald angels to a group of shepherds tending their flock by night, that unto them a child was born.  For those who had ears to hear, this must indeed have been a happy day.  The long expectation of a Saviour by a dark and desolate world was finally over, and in that little stable in Bethlehem, a tiny infant lay in his manger, and there was, at last, peace on earth to men of good will.

We know the terrible truth of what happened next.  The local ruler, a man by the name of Herod, fearful that this newborn baby was indeed the promised King of Kings who would usurp his throne and take away his power, did what all corrupt rulers do and tried to consolidate his reign through tyranny and murder.  His slaughter of all the infants two years old and younger is infamous among the annals of history for its cruelty and malice.  But this was just the beginning of the never-ending attacks on our blessed Lord, attacks that would culminate in his elimination by the most agonising and cruel death imaginable.  Most of the Jews, God’s chosen people, would end up rejecting their Messiah, in spite of all the signs and wonders fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament.

Their refusal to recognize their King has sadly endured to the present day.  God, in his eternal knowledge, had foreseen their perfidy.  Through certain manifestations, or epiphanies, he made it apparent and clear to the world that the gates of heaven were no longer reserved solely for these men, once his chosen people.  Henceforth, all of mankind would be welcomed to enter into the eternal kingdom.  Not just Jews but now Gentiles would be able to avail themselves of the life-giving graces that flowed from Christ’s side when he died on the Cross.

This is most certainly good news for us.  For just as he called the three wise men to follow the star to Bethlehem, so today he calls us to follow in their steps.  They were not Jews.  They came from the east, Gentiles from their own faraway lands.  But they had the same goal and endured every obstacle and hardship until the star led them to a humble stable, and they fell on their knees to worship their newborn King.  This is our goal and destiny also.  The Star of Bethlehem meant the beginning of a new salvation for the Gentiles.  And we Gentiles must rejoice today as the old man Simeon rejoiced when the Christ Child was presented in the temple.  “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people, to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel.”  A light to lighten the Gentiles.  We are those Gentiles, and we must follow that light.  The light of the star of Bethlehem.  Through field and fountain, moor and mountain, we must walk the path of the Three Kings, despite whatever stands in our way.  We must trudge along through this vale of tears, guided by the light of that star, which is Christ himself.

Like those first three Gentiles who worshipped the Son of God, we too have much to endure on our own road to Bethlehem.  Times are tough, fraught with many dangers.  But God has brought us this far, here, to a church that provides us with the true faith, the true Mass and sacraments.  Like the Jews of old, we have been somehow chosen, through no merits of our own.  But now we must choose.  Are we going to be like the Jewish shepherds who left their fields to come and worship the Messiah?  Or are we going to follow the example of the Jewish King Herod and reject the graces we have been given?  They were all of the same race, they were all Jews equally.  It is not enough, however, to be the “chosen people.”  God has chosen us.  But now we must choose him!

We choose Christ by obeying his commandments.  This much is clear.  But we must do more.  It is not enough to just kneel before him like the Three Wise Men.  They brought with them gifts.  And so must we.  And I’m not talking about the gold we put in the collection basket.  There is gold of higher value that we must offer to God, the gift of our heart.  Yes, that heart by which we feel all those superficial emotions and sentiments of self-indulgence, pleasure, vanity and thirst for material wealth.  Our heart must be turned in a completely different direction, away from these earthly desires.  Our heart must be offered to Christ, to him who is the Sacred Heart, who has shown us so much love, and asks for our love in return.  God’s will be done, not our own.  For us, our duty is ever to please that Sacred Heart by subjecting our own will to his, so that his will may truly be done, in earth as it is in heaven. 

“Rejoice, ye Gentiles” says St. Paul in today’s Epistle.  “Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.”  From the manger in the stable, God gave not just the Jews, but us Gentiles also, the gift of salvation.  As we approach ever nearer to that manger, let us prepare ourselves to give to the infant Son of God our own Christmas gift, that of choosing God above all things.

 

 

Hymn of the Week


Hark! A Herald Voice is Calling

Translated from the 6th century Latin by the Rev. Edward Caswall

Tune: Merton, sung by the Choir of King's College, Cambridge



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