Brian’s Reflection: The Weekend, Saturday, December 4, 2010
I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who
is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not
worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with
the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his
hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will
gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will
burn with unquenchable fire.
The Gospel called “Matthew”, chapter 3 [for Advent II]
[ Here are the Lessons for the Second Sunday in Advent: And let me say that I hope these ruminations are helpful to all; the Gospel’s words don’t just enlighten Christians! http://www.io.com/~kellywp/YearA_RCL/Advent/AAdv2_RCL.html ]
I’m focusing on the Gospel ….. obviously; though you may find the Readings informatory.
First: we mustn’t assume that ALL the people who went out to see John, called the Baptist, in the Wilderness were hypocrites or stupid. Many must have gone out of deep sense of inner spirit ….. but if we use the statistics of those in parishes who are “committed”, it is about 10-15%! But the story centers on the hypocrites, the self-interested, the opportunistic.
As to language about “end times” and coming judgment and “unquenchable fire”, I keep all that in perspective. I am not concerned generally with “what will come”; I am concerned with who we are NOW and how we live our lives. “End Time” language is a kind of “scare tactic”, mean to get us focused on how we are living now.
This Advent lesson is one of Hope. I is “Good News”! It basically says that the Christ – namely the essence of the power to be fully human as seen from the Gospel perspective, that is, a fully evolved Creature of Love, is Within. And that that Inner Power can be reached. That it is exerting its influence within us, whether we know it or not – it is that Winnowing Fork, seeking to sift out from us all those things that dehumanize us. Is it not a happy thing to contemplate that it is within our very nature to be evolving towards Wholeness and Freedom? Religion is, of course, meant to aid this process. I take heart that the Pharisees and Sadducees had the intuitive sense to go to John; they are the iconic metaphor of our own longing for Holiness.
But the Advent warning is clear. All things are tending towards Wholeness ….. but we must desire it. It seems in the World today that most do NOT desire it ….. and that makes me wonder what people are being taught about Reality. I’ve been (uncharacteristically) watching TV today ….. just to see what is being communicated. It is relentlessly a theology of Salvation by Stuff – mostly Crap. And I know of no religious or secular community that is not under its power. I am particularly saddened these days by Islam, which seems to be caught in a trap of rigid moralism on the one hand and a prideful sense of delusional superiority on the other.
The “Kingdom of God” in WITHIN. If we want Peace, Justice, Joy in our personal and common earthly lives, we must open to transformation.
The “ax is lying at the root of the trees”. Every human heat should rejoice.