Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Certainty We Joyfully Await

There I sat, waiting. I was in a strange place (by this, I mean a restaurant I don’t normally go to), waiting for a teen I did not know very well. The teen was only a few minutes late, but those few minutes taught me a great deal about waiting and about certainty.

As the clock ticked past 4pm, and I sat staring at the parking lot from inside – coffee in hand – my thought process shifted from “I’m looking forward to this meeting,” to a series of doubt-filled questions:

-Am I in the right place?
-We said 4pm, right?
-I wonder if this meeting will happen.

The moment I saw the teen walk across the parking lot, the doubt subsided and we ended up having an enjoyable conversation.

What I’ve just described is a fairly typical (unless I’m abnormal, which could be the case) human experience – one of uncertainty. The most important point is not our ability to very quickly slide into the shadow of doubt cast by uncertainty, but the strong desire we truly have for certainty.

This afternoon coffee meeting is analogous to my life as a whole…and quite possibly yours as well. I have a real longing for truth and certainty. I can strain, and pine, and doubt, and ask a million questions, but until the truth walks across that parking lot, until it breaks into my life, I ultimately remain uncertain.

Insert Christ Here.

This is quite literally how the certainty of Christ comes into our uncertain lives. He surprises us, but the surprise brings peace and understanding. “Christ came that we might have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Christ came that we might have certainty – certainty about who we are and that we are loved in the midst of this mysterious thing called life. This is the power and essence of the Christian Event.

Think of the encounter the old man Simeon had with Christ at the temple. Here he is, an old man, who had been promised he would see the Messiah. But he’s old, and getting older. We can imagine his thoughts, “Lord, I’m going to die soon. Is this really going to happen?” But it does happen. “Lord, let your servant go in peace, your Word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation you have prepared in the sight of your people. A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”

Your Word has been fulfilled. I have seen your salvation. You are the light of truth, the light of revelation.

O holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

He appears! He comes and because He, the spoken Word of the Creator, comes, we can know ourselves and our worth. This is the certainty we long for: to know that we are loved and have the capacity to love in return. And not only to love our fellow brothers and sisters, but God.

Christ, Certainty broke into the lives of the apostles, of John, Andrew, Peter. He broke into the lives of the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, and even Pontius Pilate. He comes to us because we cannot attain the full certainty we want on our own. People have tried for thousands of years. The answer to the problem is Christ. He is extraneous to us. He comes from outside, yet He wants to be one with you and I.

“Certainty comes as a result of a life lived within the Church.” Luigi Giussani

Why? The Church makes Christ known. It is through the Church that the resurrected Christ can still be encountered today…

Check out this quote from Lorenzo Albacete:

“To believe that one becomes a Christian through the proper philosophy, theology, spirituality, morality, or cultural project, is a presumption; it is to see our efforts as the cause of our belonging to Christ. Instead, we become Christians because the Incarnation happened in history, because the Paschal Mystery happened, because Pentecost happened, and because those events continue to happen in the world today. They happen now because they happened then and because the Church exists in the world as the life of a communion of persons created by these events, and making them present today through the sacraments. They happen because Christ has risen from the dead and can be encountered today with exactly the same results experienced by Andrew, James, John, Peter, Mary Magdalen, the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, Zaccheus, and the criminal at the cross next to His. Something happened to them.”

“The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who was to come, namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” (Gaudium et Spes 22)

And so it is with great expectation that we joyfully await our encounter with the certainty of Christ, both now and at our final judgment.

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