Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Radical Incompleteness

Father John J. Lombardi

Those words above, from one priest, struck like an arrow, in another priest "we are radically incomplete we human beings."

Sometimes it's hard to admit as modern Catholics, and self sufficient, successful Americans, we want to maintain, most of the time, a cool, assertive, controlling and directive persona making sure "we're never out of control." We usually don't like to think, "I am a work in progress"; quite the opposite, we think we have all we need even if we go to Church and believe in God.

When we're really honest (i.e., on a "bad hair day" or "manic Monday") we may admit we are, really, incomplete, and that this world including ourselves can use a lot of fixing. Things aren't really so tidy and copasetic.

As a matter of fact, when we really look into reality, we can see a lot more suffering and incompleteness children starving, families being torn apart, depressions of mind and spirit in the dark doldrums of Winter, children being abused or manipulated by a materialistic culture, the elderly being preyed upon, and countless abortions.

We need Jesus.

Jesus is the only answer to all the varied, intense and consistent incompleteness of life, and Christmas is the ultimate answer to all our troubles "That God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life." Jn. 3:16

Notice that Bible statement, which may seem to us, by now a cliché : that those who do not believe in Jesus and align their lives to Him will perish. Life without Jesus without God is a form of perishing, suffering and nihilism (meaninglessness).

These remaining hours and days of Advent (a Latin word which means "to come to" in this case, to God!) let us, in our hearts, blood and "spiritual guts" really long for Jesus, perhaps in a way we never really have before: as the ultimate answer to life, to any and all problems.

The word radical comes from the Latin, radix, meaning "root." When the priest said, above, that we humans are radically incomplete, he meant it: that, in our very physical, spiritual and chemical make up, we are incomplete, transitional, "not final". Instead of leaving us where we are "sheep without a shepherd" Jesus left Heaven and came to Earth to rescue us, redeem us and lift us up to the Father. He chose not to condemn mankind and the material world (even though it is sometimes in rebellion); He chose to restore and "upgrade" the cosmos by becoming, part of it, subject to it, showing us that He wanted to redeem our world.

Let us continue to long for Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary that He take root in the "inner mangers of our hearts," so that even in our incompleteness we are fortified in Him, our one and only Savior.

As long as we live with, in and through Jesus, we are being made complete; though our final completion will occur in Heaven, where we will see, taste and experience, with the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints, the Uncreated, Most Holy Trinity, and where there will be no more tears or suffering. St. Catherine of Siena once said it this way, "All the way to Heaven is Heaven, for our Lord said, 'I am the way.'

"Remember, while it's still Advent keep longing, hoping, waiting, desiring for Jesus to complete us!

To honor Jesus in His Birth, let us venerate His beautiful Mother, with a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

"Hail! Lady and Queen, Virgin who became the Church, chosen by the Father in Heaven, consecrated by His beloved Son and His Spirit, the Comforter, in you was and remains the whole fullness of grace and everything that is good. Hail His palace, Hail His tabernacle, Hail His dwelling, Hail His robe, Hail His handmaid, Hail His mother!… …Holy Virgin Mary, among all the women of the world, there is none like you. You are daughter of the Most High King, Father of Heaven; you are the Mother of our Most Holy Lord, Jesus Christ. You are the bride of the Holy Spirit. Pray for us, with St. Michael the Archangel and all the powers of Heaven, to your most holy and beloved Son, our Lord and Master: Amen."

MEDITATION: How will I prepare for Jesus' birth? even in these final hours and days of Advent there is time for preparation, through silence and meditation, prayer and Bible reading and longing for Him in my heart Do I deeply realize my very life, hopes and emotions and goals are incomplete without Jesus? Do I sometimes try to fill this incompleteness with things and persons other than Jesus?

CHILDREN AND VIGILANCE: modern life is sometimes a battleground for children's souls. Prophets and saintly people (on all ends of the political, spiritual spectrum) warn us of conforming too much to the culture. Recently a mother asked her children to memorize a couple Bible verses: Rm 12:2: "Be not conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind," and "Phillipians 4:8, "Whatever is true, honest, just, whatever is pure, lovely, gracious, if there is any excellence and worthy of praise, think about these things." Children are being assaulted through computers, literature, movies and electronic games that abuse sexuality and other persons, promote violence and immorality, and glamorize paganism. Parents really need to be vigilant not to let "the world" into their children's precious hearts and innocent souls. See I Jn. 2:15 17, esp, now when so many children's gifts are marketed and given away.

QUOTE of THE WEEK: "Even when I'm home I'm homesick." Anonymous…

Read other Sermons by Father John J. Lombardi