Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Saviour.
The text above is the entrance antiphon for this Sunday’s mass and is taken from Isaiah 45:8. This fourth Sunday of Advent – Rorate Sunday – takes its name from this antiphon. Rorate means to drip or sprinkle.
At this time of Advent, I cannot help recalling the panoramas I used to be surrounded by during my diaconate in the Gatton-Laidley Parish. To drive anywhere, I had to go past, seemingly infinite rows of crops. The over-abundance of crops in “Australia’s salad bowl” highlighted the over-abundance of God’s giving in Christ. In Jesus, God does not give some-things, or some-ones, God gives us God’s self. How much more is there to give?
In order for such quantities of crops to grow, the question every year on everyone’s minds is “will the rains come?” During my time there, I witnessed what “rain down” looks like and needs to look like. I saw the land as it looks when it was starved of rain. When the seeds had only just been planted, the tilled but empty soil stretching in several directions also evoked a sense of desolation. It was as it were, an icon of unfulfilled potential.
On the flip side, we all witnessed the devastating deluge that descended upon the Valley earlier this year. It tore up roads and wiped out crops. Again, the “Salad Bowl” threw light upon this antiphon: it seems to say, that despite the power and over-abundance of God’s giving the “Just One” comes to us with deep respect: like dew descending; like rain upon fields. Where the Just One lands, salvation sprouts forth in the lives of those who drink and drink daily from this “rain”.
The opening prayer at mass picks up this theme: it essentially says, “Pour forth your grace into our hearts Lord, so that we may be brought to the glory of Christ’s resurrection, because of his passion”. What is grace? Grace comes from “gratia” in Latin, meaning “gift”. God’s gift/grace to us is not some-things, but God’s own self, God’s own presence to transform us. In other words, the priest prays: Pour yourself forth into our hearts Lord, so that we may be brought to the Glory of Christ’s resurrection. Describing a scene only goes so far: if you can visit a farm at this time, it will be worth the drive out.
We are now a week out from Christmas. We are now on the home stretch of the Advent journey. Christ has come to us and we celebrate that coming. There are many for whom Christ remains an idea, a story. To these, the Church goes out saying “God has come among us!” In our own parish last week, Erin and Emily shared with us their desire to join NET ministries in 2023. They wish to be part of a team, which embeds itself in a parish, and share their relationship with Jesus Christ with other youth. To borrow a Rorate Sunday image, they are like clouds taking “the rain” to fields in which Christ wishes to grow in abundance. Erin and Emily raised about half of the money needed over the weekend. This could not have been possible without the excellent work done by the Women’s Prayer and Friendship Group in running the cake stall, the bric-a-brac sale, the plant sale and the sausage sizzle. To help them reach their $6,400 goal, you are welcome to make a donation indicating on an envelope and send it into the parish office.
As we journey towards Christmas day, may God bless us all in our relationships, our faith and our health.
God bless, Fr. Francis