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Silence of Space

The Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2,7-8,12-13,17; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12

Sermon Week Second Sunday of Advent Cycle A

Scripture Summary Matthew 3:2

Paul Claudel (1868–1955), the French dramatist and poet is perhaps best known as the author of the play "The Satin Slipper." As a young man, Claudel experienced a private revelation while attending services on Christmas Day in the famous Notre Dame Cathedral. He wrote that in a single moment that day, he realized, "God exists; He is there. He is someone; He is a being as personal as I am! He loves me; He calls me." His conversion, though, was not immediate or simple; he struggled mightily with doubts and fears. Nevertheless, he eventually entered the Church -- dedicating himself to writing about the drama of salvation, the struggle of faith in a faithless world, and the intimate love God has for his creatures.

Among Claudel's most significant influences was the 17th-century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal, who wrote: "The Pensées" (Thoughts), which is a collection of fragments on theology and philosophy. In one of the reflections He writes, "When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in an eternity before and after, the little space I fill engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me, I am terrified. The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me."

Some two-hundred years later, in counterpoint to Pascal's anxious lament, Claudel, declared, "I am no longer terrified by the silence of endless space." And we have this enduring reflection from Claudel: "Christ did not come to do away with suffering; He did not come to explain it; He came to fill it with His presence." -1

For those of us who are Christ's People -- for those of us who have experienced the Christ Presence in our lives -- the Kingdom of Heaven has real meaning because we have experienced it. It is where God's Grace is present. It is where God's loving mercy is present. It is where God fills us with His presence.

A middle school teacher was trying his best to work with a student who seemed incapable of even a moment of silence. The [...]

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