Saturday, November 27, 2010

Keep Christ in Advent!--A Reflection on the First Sunday in Advent

This Sunday, November 28, 2010 is the First Sunday of Advent. It is the beginning of the Church's liturgical year. The Mass readings are all about getting ready for the coming of Jesus, the Son of Man as he refers to himself in the Gospel.

In the first reading, Isaiah foretells it, "In days to come,/the mountain of the Lord’s house/shall be established as the highest mountain/and raised above the hills." God himself will instruct all nations. After this instruction and judgment, there will be peace--the universal peace of Christ. In those oft quoted words, Isaiah says, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares/and their spears into pruning hooks;/one nation shall not raise the sword against another,/nor shall they train for war again." Instruction, judgment, peace.

The problem is that instead of listening to the Lord's teaching, we have been sleepwalking through life. St. Paul calls for us to wake-up! "You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed..." In our sleepwalking we have wandered off the path. Instead we have stumbled into orgies and drunkenness, promiscuity and lust, rivalry and jealousy. That may sound like a pretty good Saturday night to some, but it makes for a terrible Sunday morning!

In the Gospel, Jesus compares us to the people of Noah's day. There's old Noah, building a boat in the middle of the desert. He was preparing for a judgment that seemed to never come. So the people did what we would do, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. They probably even had a pool going on when the first raindrop would fall or when Noah would quit. So life went on as usual; until it began to rain!

Since we don't know when that first drop will fall in our time, Jesus calls for us to stay awake. The Church gives us this season of Advent at the beginning of it's liturgical year to remind us to prepare for Christ's coming. It is a time to consider our resolutions for this new year. What will you do to prepare for Christ's coming? It's not just his second coming we need to consider. Jesus comes to us every day, especially in two ways. First, he comes to us in the poor. They may be poor in spirit or poor in health or poor in morality. They may be financially impoverished or emotionally impoverished. They may be in the womb or at the end of life. They will probably be people we don't like very much. Learn to see Christ in them.

Second, he comes to us in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. Every Mass is not only a memorial of his passion and resurrection, but is also an anticipation of his coming to us. Jesus is meek and humble of heart, so he comes to us in bread and wine. Because if he came in his glory, to such sinners as we are, we could not see his face and live. But by his grace in the Eucharist, he does come to us; body, blood soul and divinity. As St. Peter says, his divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion so that we may come to share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). He feeds us with his life so we will be able to live with him in Heaven.

Let us use this season of Advent to wake-up from our spiritual sleep, to leave behind the sin that so easily trips us up and to prepare the way of the Lord, in our hearts and in our world. Keep Christ in Advent! He is coming. He is almost here.

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