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12/1/2015 3:06:00 PM
I like being Catholic

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015
Second Sunday of Advent
Baruch 5:1-9
Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
Luke 3:1-6

Every now and then, I box my books and send them to a parish that has a library. Some of the books I have read; others I have never gotten around to reading. While attempting this task, I encountered “I Like Being Catholic,” edited by Michael Leach and Therese J. Borchard. I read it when it was first published and now I am reading it again. The book is a collection of the reflections of many Catholics, most of them well known. Their reasons for loving the Catholic Church are varied but they always make me think.

When I reflect on some of the reasons I like being Catholic, I almost always begin with the simple fact that Catholicism makes sense to me. All the direction I need to live a good life is available to me in the Scripture, our magisterium, and in the example of others. Advent is part of the “sensible Church.” The liturgies of Advent and Pope Francis’ proclamation of a Jubilee Year of Mercy give me a map that leads to the Kingdom.

The Advent Scripture identifies four roads to the kingdom and calls us to make straight those paths. The kingdom comes by our walking toward peace, justice, liberation and reconciliation. As we walk this road, we find the Mercy that we are called to proclaim during this Jubilee year.

The paths themselves tell us something about the Kingdom. Today’s First Reading is a poetic description of what we will find when we walk these four roads…sorrow and mourning will flee and mercy will be ours.

All that God does for us is proclaimed in the Responsorial Psalm. His mercy is found in food for the hungry, freedom for captives, sight for the blind, protection for strangers and sustenance for the orphan and the widow. This is how we are to show mercy. The Second Reading calls us to be compassionate as God is compassionate, to be merciful as he is merciful.

Penance is a step on the path toward reconciliation. Today’s readings help us to identify the sins for which we should atone. Reconciliation is taking the initiative. It is “affirmative action” in the house of the human spirit. The adult Christian joyfully celebrates the season of Advent in the spirit of reconciliation and penance. This is not a breast-beating, non-productive penance inflicted on self for the sake of pain. It is reconciliation rooted in compassion for the other. It is a positive movement toward the celebration of Christ present and with us even as we proclaim his coming.

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