Speak Lord: Bring us home…

Prodigal

The responsorial psalm for Mass tomorrow, the 4th Sunday of Advent, echoes themes of the Year of Mercy.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
shine forth from your cherubim throne.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
O Lord, come to our help.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.
Visit this vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name.

Lord of hosts, bring us back; let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Psalm 79:2-3,15-16,18-19

Often we think of Christmas as a time when God comes to join us. However another way of us thinking about Incarnation and Salvation is about humanity returning to God: turning again and finding home with him, rather than seeking our lives for ourselves and by ourselves.

Israel is clearer about this that Christians, much of the time. Christians, especially now and in the West, often reduce the life of faith as to what God does for us, God as servant, God’s gift. All these are part of the truth, but of themselves inadequate. Of themselves they can leave us in the driving seat, and reduce God, salvation to commodities, even optional extras (though attractive and desirable ones.)

Christian faith is about our being, and our purpose, our ontology and teleology. We were made in the image and likeness of God, to live in a certain intimacy with him. These realities have been put in jeopardy by our sin and the sin of the world: some Christians even say they have been lost to us through sin. Catholic doctrine does not go that far, but our tradition does know the disfiguring and life-threatening nature of sin and warns us to consider it with full seriousness.

Yet we are called back, helped up and helped back…

We give thanks, and seek to accept the help, and seek to find benefit in it.

 

The return of the Prodigal. Rembrandt. Hermitage, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.

 

 

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