The Third Sunday After Advent
As we prepare ourselves for the Great coming event of the Birth of the Christ Child we consider four great Disciplines prescribed by the Church. In the First week of Advent we considered the necessity of Discrimination. Discrimination is a function of the concrete mind the capacity to distinguish between the real and the unreal, the lasting and the transitory, to discern not just between good and evil but between the good and the best! Discrimination enables us to cut away the unimportant and turn our attention toward the Eternal.
In the second week we looked at the importance of self forgetfulness. We looked at St John the Baptist as an example. The Baptist said He must increase and I must decrease! This Discipline takes our attention off of ourselves and puts it on the Christ within.
Now we consider the quality of Love. And of all of the disciplines with which we are challenged this is probably the greatest and most effective in the development of the Christ Life!
How easily we speak about love in our society, as if it were a common commodity! When in fact, discovering True Unselfish Love is very rare indeed. Movies and TV show us daily examples of counterfeit love. How easily we talk about men and women falling in love! I often caution young people about the dangers of "falling in Love" Im very suspect of things you can fall into!!! Remember if you can fall in you can fall out too!
If we examine ourselves honestly and impartially we will find that most of the time our thoughts, our motivations, our concerns, our preoccupation is with ourselves. Most people want to be the center of attraction, center stage! We want the limelight to be on us and as soon as it moves to someone else we become hurt, annoyed or angry! Pay attention to your conversation, see how often your speech involves yourself! Rarely do you find a person who puts others first!
There is one way and one way only out of this vicious cycle it is the way of LOVE. Love when it takes possession of a life moves that person out of the center of his circle and instead places the object of his love in its place. Now the beloved commands all the attention of the lover. Now the beloved is the center of attraction. Now everything in this world revolves around the Beloved!
What the normal person experiences unconsciously with passing affections, the student of the Spiritual Life must do consciously, deliberately with intent! Now the Spiritual Man or Women intentionally removes the self from the throne and instead places Our Blessed Lord upon it. Now we move away from being the center of our Universe and recognize there really is only One True Center. As soon as we realize that Love is the One motivating Fact in all of Creation we will gain a glimpse of the very Nature of God and the purpose of existence.
The Very Act of Creation is an act of Sacrificial Love. God so Loved the world that he gave ..The Apostle John tells us God is Love. The very nature of Divinity is tied up in Love.
Even down to the very sub-atomic levels of physical manifestation. Atoms and sub atomic particles are units of matter/energy which cohere by the power of attraction.
If we would be like God we must be Love. And Love is always relational! It is not nor cannot be static. Love cannot exist in a vacuum. There must always be the Lover and the Beloved! Object and Subject. That is why in both the Epistle and Gospel this morning we read about how we must relate to each other. St Paul makes it very clear that we are all part of each other! We cant get along without each other. And what will hold us together? Of course the Answer is Love. Jesus gives us the great example of Servant. And he finishes this object lesson by saying this is the only true test of whether you are my disciple!! He says if you Love me, if you love my Mother, if you love your Heavenly Father, if you love my Church show it! Show it by loving each other!!!! Love is relational.
So the Great Festival celebrating Gods love for the World with the Birth of His Son in our midst is Ultimately the Birth of Love in our hearts and lives. Let us discipline ourselves by a demonstration of unselfish Love.
The Right Reverend William S.H. Downey
Regionary Bishop for the USA
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