As we enter the season of Advent, we begin to think about the birth of our Lord. We know how Jesus was born, but have you ever thought about WHY Jesus was born? Why did God choose to become one of us?
It may be helpful for us to look at what we believe – in very simple terms: God created us out of love, but we were captured by sin and death. God became one of us to rescue us, defeat death, and invite us to join him on mission to redeem the world.
We call this the Kerygma – our foundational message that describes our faith. Throughout this Advent season, I have invited our priests and deacons to preach on these foundational themes. My weekly video messages this Advent will also explore our understanding of “Why Jesus was Born” and what that means for us as missionary disciples.
The themes for our weekly reflection will build upon materials known as the Rescue Project developed by ACTS XXIX, a Catholic ministry committed to the compelling proclamation of the gospel. Earlier this year, Father John Riccardo and the team for ACTS XXIX presented at our annual priest retreat and our deacon retreat also utilized their materials. Many of our parishes are drawing upon these resources as a tool to evangelize and develop missionary disciples. If you want to take a deeper dive, I encourage you to go to their website for more information and resources (https://rescueproject.us – from the Home page select the RESCUE project).
Here is the basic outline we will follow: Created, Captured, Rescued, Response.
Created: There is one God. He freely chose to create – us and this world – and everything he made is good. We, the human person, are the highlight of his creation, made in his image and likeness. We have reason and free will, which make us capable of genuine love. We were made for relationship (with God and with each other).
Captured: God is all-good, but one of the creatures he made chose to rebel against God’s plan. That creature is the enemy, Satan. Satan’s motive for rebellion was envy of humanity. He hates that out of love God created us and has declared war on us. His strategy is to convince us that God is not our loving Father and that we don’t need God to be happy. He uses lies, division, flattery, temptation and discouragement to destroy our lives. We have been captured and are in need of being rescued.
Rescued: Jesus came to fight the enemy and rescue us. The crucifixion could not have happened unless God wanted it to. Jesus used the cross to take on the enemy to free us from our captivity to sin and death. In laying down his life for us and in his resurrection, Jesus not only frees us from our captor, but he recreates us and gives us access to the Father. In Jesus, we have authority over the enemy.
Response: Jesus is sending us out on a mission to rescue his world. What Jesus did for us, laying down his life to rescue us from the enemy, invites us to respond in joyful gratitude! A personal response to our Creator, our Rescuer and our Protector is to let go of our worldly ties – and surrender with love to his plan for us. We start our mission in our own sphere of influence (marriage and family, friendships, community, profession) by sharing the story of how Christ rescues us from every human ill and every human problem. We live out our faith in our words and actions.
God wants us to live in union with him and in loving relationship with our brothers and sisters. Jesus was born to rescue us from sin and darkness and to set us free to love and serve him in this life – and have eternal life with him in the next. There’s nothing more important than to understand and live these truths.
Ask God to help you understand the mission he has entrusted to you. Ask Him to show you what is keeping you from more fully surrendering yourself to His plan. Let’s keep each other in prayer that we will have a life changing Advent.
Most Reverend Robert J. McClory
Diocese of Gary