First Week of Advent

‘To live is to change, to be perfect is to have changed often.” This simple saying of Blessed John Henry Newman can make us uneasy – not only because we are all wary of change, but also because of the word “perfect”. I am not perfect, I reflect; but Jesus uses this unsettling word often.

So what is perfection? Perfection comes about by embracing change and changing often. The things of nature do not change by choice; they grow by nature. My man-made glasses are a perfect pair of glasses. They do what they were created to do, but they will never be anything else.

For me to be perfect, each day I have to become what God has created me to be. Thomas Merton reflects that “to be a saint is to be myself ”. These powerful words – perfection, being a saint – are consequences of a day-to-day struggle, through our free choices, to seek and live out God’s will in our daily lives.

We need to be constantly reminded of this truth, and in the second reading on Sunday (Romans 13:11-14) we hear that the time has come, we must wake up now, our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were first converted.

St Paul, in addressing the Romans, is calling them to “wake up”. These are people who have already been converted. Like us, they are followers of the Saviour, yet they have fallen asleep and have “preferred to do things under cover of darkness”. But our only light is the “armour of the Lord Jesus Christ”.

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