My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
When St. John Henry Newman heard that someone said he was a saint, he chided the “messenger” and said, “I have no tendency to be a saint.” Throughout his life, St. John Henry Newman thought himself to be far away from the ideal of holiness. Yet, his life, from the age of 15 when he had his “first conversion,” was orienting himself toward God, calling God the center of his life.
Awareness of God’s presence is a gift of faith. It is not enough to want to be good or to do good or to follow our conscience. First, we have to be aware of God’s presence. Then, all that we are becomes an orientation toward God. I think of our closeness to God like the rotation of the sun. As the sun strengthens or darkens our day, we find ourselves closer to the light and perhaps warmer or we notice the sun setting and darkness prevails. If we orient ourselves toward God, we easily find the center of that relationship and its burgeoning warmth. If we step away from our direction within God’s light, the relationship dims.
Jesus shows us how to be in relationship with God. He claims no power except that of the servant of God’s will. He invites us to be in communion with Him as servants of God’s will. St. John Newman’s motto was ‘holiness rather than peace’. His aim was to overcome any form of false peace and to lead a life in conformity with the Gospel. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI talked about St. John Newman’s living through, with and in God. Until his moment of conversion, “Newman thought like the average men of his time and indeed like the average men of today, who do not simply exclude the existence of God, but consider it as something uncertain, something with no essential role to play in their lives.” In his conversion, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI continues, “Newman recognized that it is exactly the other way round: that God and the soul, man’s spiritual identity, constitute what is genuinely real, what counts … We are all in constant need of such conversion: then we are on the right path.”
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe celebrated on Sunday, November 24, the last Sunday of our liturgical year, is about our conversion to God; it is about our recognition that no matter how high on the earthly totem pole, whether in the Church or business or politics or family, none of us can claim to be God. God’s power is in service to our human dignity. His governance is the fullness of love and the perpetual vigilance of our well-being. We are invited to partner with God in this service. God’s invitation is personal, written by His hand to you.
Someone sent me a card that read, “God is still here. It is we who have walked away.” As we go with rejoicing to the house of the Lord this coming Advent season, let us continue the journey beyond one day or any season. Let the saints be our guide to holiness. Let us utter Mary’s YES with humility to bring His light to the world. His light does not rotate from bright to some other lesser degree, but is enduring.
May we accept this eternal invitation to know and do God’s will.