3rd Sunday Advent C    –     Jesus Transforms

There was a famous monastery which had fallen on hard times. Formerly, it was filled with young monks and the abbey church resounded to the otherworldly tones of the monks’ chant. A time came when people no longer came to pray or for spiritual direction. A handful of elderly monks shuffled through the cloisters and praised God with coarsened and heavy hearts. Across the valley on the other side of the hill a venerable old rabbi had built a little hut on the edge of a wood. He would come out from the city from time to time to fast and pray and spend the day. No one ever spoke with him but whenever he appeared, word would pass from monk to monk: “The rabbi was seen in the hills.” And for as long as he was there, the monks would feel sustained by his prayer.

One day the abbot decided to visit the venerable rabbi and open his heart to him. So, after morning Mass he set out across the valley and made his way to the wood which sheltered the rabbi’s little hut. From a distance the rabbi saw him coming and welcomed the poor abbot with open arms. In the middle of the hut was a small wooden table with the Scriptures open on it. There they sat for a long quiet moment in the presence of the word of God, open on the table in front of them. The abbot’s heart cracked and opened when he noticed tears starting to trickle from the rabbi’s eyes and down through his old white beard. For the first time in his adult life, and unable to contain himself, the old abbot wept. The two men sat there like lost children, filling the hut with their sobs and soaking the top of the table with their tears.After the tears had ceased to flow and all was quiet again, the rabbi lifted his head. “You and your brothers are serving God with heavy hearts,” he said.  “You have come to ask a teaching of me. I will give you a teaching, but you can only repeat it once. After that, no one must ever say it aloud again.” The rabbi, sitting upright and looking straight at the abbot, said, “The Messiah is among you.” For a long time, all was silent. Then the rabbi, slowly rising to his feet, said, “Now you must go.” The abbot left without a word and without ever looking back returned to his monastery. Next day, he called the monks together and conveyed to them what the venerable old rabbi had told him. The old monks were startled and asked themselves: “Is brother John the Messiah? Or brother Matthew? Or brother Thomas? Am I the Messiah?” What could this message mean?

As time went by, the monks began to treat each other with a special reverence. There was a gentle, wholehearted human quality about them now which was hard to describe but easy to notice. They lived with one another as men who had finally found something. But they prayed the Scriptures together as men who were always searching for something. Visitors found themselves deeply moved by the life of these monks, and people came from far and wide to be nourished by their prayer life. Most importantly, young men were asking, once again, to become part of the community. A real transformation was taking place among the monks. Each of them as an infant had been baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire, as St. John the Baptist put it. And in each, baptism had come alive. During this holy season every year, the Spirit of God leads us further along the path of inward awakening and transformation. “All mankind shall see the salvation of God” – Lk 3:6.

 

Fr. QQ – 12/08/2021

 

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