Advent, December 17 at Mississippi Abbey

Scripture Readings: Genesis 49:2, 8-10; Mt 1:11-17

Jesus was born of Mary to save us from hell and lead us to heaven.

A proud Samurai warrior sought out an elderly monk who was known for his wisdom.  In a commanding voice the warrior demanded that the monk teach him something new about heaven and hell.  The monk replied, “Teach you, something you don’t know! You know nothing!  You’re an arrogant, wicked brute, all muscle and no brains.  Go away, I have no time for you.” 

The fierce warrior was speechless with rage and humiliation.  His body tensed and with a furious cry he drew his sword to slay the old man.  “There’s hell,” said the monk.

Overwhelmed by this unexpected revelation about himself, and by the courage of the monk who was willing to lay down his life to show the proud warrior that hell was within him, he dropped to his knees and begged forgiveness. “There’s heaven,” said the monk. 

As disciples of Jesus we must learn humility, for we are sinners and come from a long genealogy of sinners.  Left to ourselves we would be lost.  For hell is within us.  But then we learn compunction and grateful love. For we have not been left to ourselves, we have been sought and found by Jesus, who loved us and saved us by laying down his life for us.  Thank Goodness, now heaven is within us!