St. Edmund Campion Parish, Maidenhead

Advent III, Year A 2016 (11 Dec 2016)

Mum has been here

Do you remember going into your room as a kid, finding it all tidied up and immediately thinking, “My mum has been in here”?

Well, that is what Christian faith is like, recognising His hand in something and saying, “It is You!” This lifts us up, because we no longer feel alone and we rediscover that we are loved. During my weeks, how many of these moments of grace have taken place? It is not enough just to enjoy things, we also need to identify their origin. Otherwise, in an instant the sorrow comes back, the doubt reappears and it sinks us. We don’t want to live like this, with all of these ups and downs. Thus, there is work we need to do, but what kind of work?

It is not a true journey if the origin that generated and generates all good things is missing. If we don't get to the point of saying "Mum was here", or "someone is behind all existing things", then we just see an infinite series of good things, but in time they leave us feeling sad and alone.

In today's gospel we see John the Baptist in prison. His only question to Jesus is: are you the one who is to come? He has been waiting for something all of his life. His greatness is that he refuses to settle for anything less, neither in his professional life nor in his private life. The point of Jesus is great too: look at the signs and read them going back to the origins. I am doing things that can only be done by God. Recognise the hand of God in things that are happening!

It is all about the origin of what happens. If, in the things that happen to us we don’t recognise the origin that has caused them to happen, why should we feel loved? How can we really live without fears? Only if we recognise someone coming towards us in those facts, in that face, in that circumstance, in that moment in the life of the community, in that text. Recognising what? The presence of the only One who can answer and reawaken our desire for change.

The problem is whether in going back to our room and seeing it tidied up and cleaned, we can’t help saying - and not because we are good - “My Mum has been here!” This generates an affection for our Mum that makes us feel we are not alone. We must not succumb to the reduction that the room got tidy all by itself by some sort of magic. No. The facts document the origin, something that came before.

If we don’t arrive at the faith, at the recognition of a Presence that touches us now through the facts, these facts will leave no trace and in each situation we will find ourselves not recognising what we had indeed seen. Having seen, we no longer think of ourselves as being alone. When we realise this, when this awareness penetrates us little by little, this generates a different way of life.

However, if we stop at the appearance and don’t go back to the ultimate origin that has made this difference possible - because no one will ever think that all good things are something generated by us - then, when we are confronted by life’s challenges we won’t be prepared to face them. But when we recognise it, we can’t help but be grateful, grateful!

The Church, the sacraments, the prayers, our friendship exist only for that: as a way to help us to see in the things that happen, the One who is at their origin - and so we feel loved all of the time, through whatever happens.