So we go into Advent. We wait now the the first Mass of Christmas, and in the meantime we meditate upon the Incarnation – the miracle that has wrought our redemption – that God became man and suffered and died for us and for our sins, and that in rising from the dead he became the first-fruits of the general resurrection. Atheists have a point when they say, as they do, this makes no sense. Why should God care so much for us? Look at who we are, what we do, what we have done to the planet he gave us stewardship of, and what we do to each other. Surely, human logic would demand, as human conceptions of justice would, that we clean up our act, we make full reparation and we serve time in deep mourning and penitence for our sins – and then, perhaps, an awesome and a merciful God might see His way to forgiving us? To err, though is, as they say, human, whilst to forgive is Divine. The Divine way was to take on Himself the burden of our sins in return for what? For our loving Him and having faith in Him, enough faith that we would, of our own accord, amend our ways and follow His precepts.
Every time I contemplate the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, I flinch and I marvel: flinch that it is my sins which help scourge Him; marvel that He bore my sins on His shoulders and brought me to Him. From the Resurrection to now, mankind has tried to complicate this, adding its own notions of what we ought to be doing. In doing what He did, Jesus showed us that God’s love is limitless – if there was anything more He could have done to show that, then He would have done it. Sin weakens our bond with God, and if we let it, it will destroy it, on our side that is. God tells us to love our enemies, and we can be sure that even if we are mad enough to declare ourselves God’s enemy, He love us still. In seeing God as a Judge, we see only part of Him. Judges pronounce condemnation of acquittal, they cannot forgive; God alone can forgive. Whether we are the Prodigal Son, the lost sheep or the lost coin, God seeks us out to find us and bring us back to him. We cannot earn forgiveness, there is nothing we can do to merit Grace – these things He gives to us – if we will be embrace them. But then we are clever, we think we have the wisdom of God, the knowledge of Good and Evil, and yet we understand nothing – because we are frightened of love that is so strong that it would lead to Jesus dying for the sake of those who hate Him. We might, if we were very brave, die for the sake of a friend of a relative – but for a stranger, and one who hated us? Never, we cannot begin to grasp that.
That is why, this Advent, like every Advent, is a time for contemplating God’s manifold mercies to us. As we wait, again, for the anniversary of the coming of the Christ child, let us take time to thank God for His mercies and blessings, and spend time there, rather then in contemplation of the sinfulness of mankind.