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Advent Tuesday 2 - Christian hope shown in beauty

Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Readings: Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13; Matthew 18:12-14

Today's responsorial psalm exhorts us to 'sing to the Lord a new song' and the verses of today's first reading from Isaiah's book of consolation have inspired diverse composers, most notably Handel, to write beautiful music that proclaims God's gift of salvation to all people.

The prophet is told to comfort God's people and to speak tenderly to them, and that, surely, is the call He continues to give to the Church, our Mother. She - and so, each of her children - is called to be God's 'sacrament of salvation' for the world, a sign of redemption and hope to a fallen world. Our world is marred by sin and strife - it is for so many, a desert wilderness, barren of hope, and life is cheapened, mown down like grass by avarice and hatred.

Shepherd PhilosopherInto this world despairing and buffeted by false philosophical opinions, the Church must cry out. Seeing the flock without a shepherd and moved by compassion, we are called to offer the Gospel - Good News! - tenderly to our contemporaries. This can only be possible if we are schooled in prayer to hope in the promises of Christ, confident in faith that He, the Good Shepherd will reveal His glory to us on the last day, and gather us into His arms. The world needs this hope, and so do we, as Benedict XVI expounds it in his recent encyclical, Spe salvi. We are called to share this hope with those around us.

The Holy Father also explained how early Christians expressed their hope through the visual arts, thus complementing the later musical art of Handel. Pope Benedict says: 'Towards the end of the third century, on the sarcophagus of a child in Rome, we find for the first time, in the context of the resurrection of Lazarus, the figure of Christ as the true philosopher, holding the Gospel in one hand and the philosopher's travelling staff in the other. With his staff, he conquers death; the Gospel brings the truth that itinerant philosophers had searched for in vain.' It is this hope in the fullness of Life found in Jesus, as well as our faith in Him as the unique Way and the Truth, that we are called to show to the world.

The beauty of the Christmas mystery has inspired much wonderful art and music and this is one way in which Christians have demonstrated their hope to the world. Let us follow their example, especially through that form of beauty we call 'holiness', serving God as He, in the Son, has served us.

Lawrence Lew OP


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