Advent is the beginning of the new Liturgical Year in the Church. It is a time to prepare for the final coming of Christ in Glory…the Parousia. We fully believe in Christ’s second coming as we sing and pray during the Mass… ‘We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.’ Therefore, there is a sobering quality to the beginning of Advent, which points us to the final fulfillment of Christ’s coming to us as man. The message is… ‘Be watchful!’
We also realize that the Holy Season of Advent prepares us to celebrate when Christ first came to us born of the Virgin…the Nativity (Christmas). Several of the Sunday liturgies bring us the prophetic words of John the Baptist as he called out… ‘Prepare the Way of the Lord.’ His was a call to repentance and a change of heart to recognize and welcome the person of Jesus…the Anointed of the Lord. He wanted the people of his day to be open to the wonder of God’s grace breaking into time and into our world. Now is the time for us to prepare the way of the Lord.
The scene of the final judgement in last Sunday’s Gospel focused on Jesus as the Universal King. He had modeled in His life and ministry the proper kind of stewardship of God’s creation and relationships to others. Jesus was the Good Shepherd who gathered and saved the lost. Jesus reached out to others, especially those rejected, and offered healing, restoration, forgiveness and mercy.
Jesus’ desire was to gather all into the kingdom as His final commissioning of His disciples illustrates… “Full authority has been given to Me…Go, and make disciples of all the nations…’ The disciples became His ambassadors…whoever hears you hears Me…whoever welcomes you welcomes Me. We all are called to carry on the mission of Jesus…with the same commitment and the same self-sacrificing love.
We are to be good stewards of all of God’s gifts…and use them, share them in love of God and neighbor…all of our time, talent and treasure we surrender and put at the feet of Christ.
After celebrating the glorious coming of the Son of Man in the Gospel of Matthew…as told by Jesus to His disciples…we enter the Holy Season of Advent. We begin with a parable of Jesus from Mark’s Gospel…from which we will continue to read throughout this new Liturgical Year (Cycle B). Jesus reminds us about the fact that we are waiting for the coming of the Son of Man…or as Mark says… ‘You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming.’ We are a people who long for…hope for…the final coming of the Lord.
That hope of the presence of the Kingdom and its future final coming and revelation is to inspire and guide our present life. Jesus preached the presence of the Kingdom…but it was not in the way the religious elite wanted to hear. Jesus’ way was a non-violent way but strongly opposed to those in power who used it for their own profit…they certainly wanted to hold on to their way…their control. He demonstrated God’s unconditional love for all…especially the lost and the sinner. All were to be welcomed into the kingdom and the banquet of life. So the disciples were to take on that same attitude…taking up the cross and following in the footsteps of Jesus.
One of the moments that helps us to realize the true meaning of Jesus’ exhortation comes in the last verse of today’s Gospel. Jesus simply says after several warnings… ‘What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!’ He would say this in his agony in the garden when His disciples couldn’t stay awake…Jesus wanted them to be alert and watch and pray with Him and for themselves.
Christians over the years have faced some difficult and dark times. Jesus wants us all to be filled with hope for His final coming by how we live our faith today…embrace the cross…live the life of a servant…be a good and faithful steward…use your time, talent and treasure to further the kingdom.
Opportunities to prepare for the Lord’s Coming this Advent are on page 6. Parish Penance Service is on Wednesday, December 13 at 6:30 pm.
Click to read From the Desk of Fr. John Nov. 26, 2017
Click to read From the Desk of Fr. John Nov. 19, 2017
Click to read From the Desk of Fr. John Nov. 12, 2017