Sunday Reflection, Second Sunday of Advent (December 7, 2014): Burning Away What Divides Us


“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” — Mark: 1:7-8

This Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent. The readings can be found here.

The beautiful first reading is from Isaiah and talks about the vision where the things that divide us are eliminated and all of Creation is brought together in Unity. The Gospel includes a speech from St. John the Baptist that talks about the need for God’s purifying fire to break down our divisions before this Unity can occur.


This week’s reflection comes from Fr. Roger LeDuc, retired past at St. Malachy Catholic Church in Tehachapi, California, USA. The full reflection can be found here, but set forth below is an excerpt:

“Pierre Teilhard de Chardin once suggested that peace and justice will come to us when we reach a high enough psychic temperature so as to burn away the things that still hold us apart. In saying this, he was drawing upon a principle in chemistry: Sometimes two elements will simply lie side by side inside a test-tube and not unite until sufficient heat is applied so as to bring them to a high enough temperature where unity can take place.

John of the Cross follows this theory when he reflects on the soul that cannot reach God until it has learned to burn with love. We too must allow ourselves to burn with love. It is only in this way that we who walk the path of life together can eventually fuse into the Body of Christ. It is only our love for God and our love for each other that will allow us to become one in the person of the one whom we await.

Many may long for gifts, parties, and varied ways of expressing our ability to walk together as families and friends. But the one who comes bringing the Good News of new life is the one whose heart is aflame for the power of God to burn away that which divides us and to fuse us into the power Jesus, a name which reminds us that God saves.

Paul affirms that God will come at a most unexpected time, like a thief, to dissolve all that is useless by fire. From this the new makeover of humanity will be fulfilled and the new earth and the new heavens will speak only of the glory of God.

To prepare the way of the Lord, John echoes, we must allow all that is not of God to burn away by the power of rekindled love. Purifying our desire and love for God over all the other passions of mankind, purifying our longing to be at peace with each other by renewed care and concern for the needs of each, this is how the Good News will be fulfilled.”

Read Full Reflection

Other Reflections:

Living Space
Creighton Online Ministries
Fr. Robert Barron Podcast


About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog ( explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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5 Responses to Sunday Reflection, Second Sunday of Advent (December 7, 2014): Burning Away What Divides Us

  1. I love most of this piece, but want to take an exception with the opening quote form Mark. It is not actually possible to see yourself unworthy and reach a high enough vibrational heat to fuse. The chemicals must be of similar ilk or quality for the pair to react. But if one feels unworthy or not good enough to tie another’s shoes, than that person is not one with Christ. Jesus taught love, self acceptance, embracing the beauty and grandeur of your nature. You are a child of God, the kingdom lies within you. Christ saw himself in you and wanted you to see the same.

    • Hi Noelle:

      Thank you for your comments. As usual, they are very insightful and thoughtful. I am not a philosopher or theologian so I will only chime in from my own experience and perspective.

      I believe that there is an ultimate good, ultimate love, ultimate beauty, ultimate truth and ultimate justice that is both the source of the material world and present in the material world. We can call this presence “God”, although that term can be misconstrued without proper definition (I am somewhat sympathetic to the Jewish notion of not speaking the name of “God” for no name does Him justice). As human creatures, we are made in the image and likeness of God. However, we can also look around and see suffering, pain and evil. This can go by a variety of names (Original Sin, false self, etc.) but it exists. In my own life, I recognize that I contribute to the suffering, through my lack of compassion for others, my selfishness, my indifference to the pain of others. This manifests itself in a variety of ways, from passing by a homeless person on the street, to contributing to an economic and political system that treats people as objects rather than people, to using a disproportionate share of the world’s resources, to not being as loving to my wife as I should be, to being distracted with work items when I should be focusing on the needs of my children. In many ways, I realize I am contributing to the pain in the world. I contribute to the tearing of the mystical fabric that binds all creation together. There is a gap between the ultimate good and my own actions. I am “not worthy”.

      However, that is part of the beauty and magic of the story. We can recognize our shortcomings and by some miracle it does not matter. The ultimate good (God) is able to heal both my internal wounds (the false self) and the tears in the mystical fabric. God’s mercy is able provide us with the “chemicals” to heal us and help us to bring about his Kingdom of love in this dimension of existence. In my own life, I still have a long ways to go, but it was only when I let go of the notion that I was an individual monad without connection to God or others, that God’s healing mercy was able to heal me and allow me to contribute to the Love and Unity of all creation.

      Thank you again for your insightful comments. I welcome the additional thoughts that you have as you seem further along on your spiritual journey than I am and I am always looking to learn and grow.

      W. Ockham

  2. Beautiful meditation, William. Thanks.
    “We too must allow ourselves to burn with love.”
    Humanity is currently undergoing a lot of “burning”. I live in hope that our shared suffering will unite us in love.

  3. Loved your response, my friend. I don’t know if you know the story of the five monks and the elephant? Five monks are blindfolded and asked to speak of an object they are touching. Each one who touches the elephant experiences it totally differently whether the hide, the foot or the trunk. Each believes he is describing something completely different than what the others are describing, but they are all clearly describing the elephant. As I read your response I had that feeling. We use different words or analogies, but we are each speaking of the same thing. In that sense neither of us is further along or farther back. We merely are touching different parts of a beautiful beast. Thanks for your lovely reply.

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