Saturday, December 01, 2007
1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT - A
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come, the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established
as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall
stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: "Come, let us climb
the LORD's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may
instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths." For from Zion
shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples.
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. O house of Jacob, come, let us
walk in the light of the LORD!
Brothers and sisters: 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; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw
off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us
conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and
drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy.
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the
desires of the flesh.
Jesus said to his disciples: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it
will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the
flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the
flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming
of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be
taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For
you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if
the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was
coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken
into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not
expect, the Son of Man will come."
Today the Church inaugurates a new year dedicated to our reliving in
time the central mysteries of the life of Christ. Christ is the "the
Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the
end", and the Church has us begin each year focusing both on the end
and on the beginning so that we might better live the present.
Advent is that season in which we prepare for Christ's coming in the
past, in Bethlehem, his coming in the future on the clouds of heaven
to judge the living and the dead and his coming in the present in so
many ways, but especially in the Eucharist.
Advent, like the life of faith as a whole, is fundamentally dynamic.
There is movement. Christ out of love is coming toward us and we, out
of love, await his coming, so that we might embrace him with joy.
There is a temptation sometimes to look at a new liturgical year with
little or no excitement, similar to what we experience when we watch
re-runs of television programs or movies. We know how the story ends
and therefore it makes less and less of an impression on us each time
we view it. But that is not the way God wants it and that is not what
the liturgical year is meant to be. There is meant to be a whole new
drama for us in this new liturgical season in which we, with Christ's
help, rise to meet the challenges that he puts before us.
Every liturgical cycle is supposed to be a liturgical spiral. We are
not meant to repeat last year's steps but rather to retrace their
direction at a higher and more intense level and do so with
enthusiasm. The experience of last year is meant to help us to have a
better season this year.
Jesus tells us in today's Gospel that, when he comes, there will be
winners and there will be losers. Jesus stresses: "As it was in the
days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man." We know
what happened at the time of Noah. The Book of Genesis tells us: "The
wickedness of mankind was great on the earth. It grieved God to the
heart". The majority of people were drowning in their own wickedness,
so self-absorbed that they did not even see the storm coming. Noah was
building a boat, awaiting God's word to be fulfilled.
Jesus tells us that history will repeat itself. When he comes again,
some will be ready and some will not be ready. Jesus himself has come
into the world and built a new boat for us, the Church, stockpiling it
with the salvific provisions of the sacraments, his Word and his very
presence, but we have to be wise enough to see the forecast and to get
on that boat. Jesus tells us very clearly in the Gospel how to avoid
making the same mistake that the people in Noah's day did. The means
is to "stay awake," to remain always vigilant and alert for his return
so that we might never "fall asleep spiritually" and be caught off
St. Paul interprets for us what that means in the second reading. He
says: "Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the
armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling
and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in
quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
My dear friends, thus, each of us is faced with a choice. The choice
is between light and darkness, between day and night, between life and
death. If we choose to "revel in drunkenness, debauchery,
licentiousness, quarreling and jealousy," we are choosing the darkness
and will remain there. In the final analysis, we either "make
provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires," or make provision
for the Spirit, to gratify God.
Jesus and St. Paul sound an alarm clock for us today. They tell us to
wake up. And they give us the Good News that we can "walk in the
light of the Lord", leaving "the works of darkness" behind, and "put
on the Lord Jesus Christ." That is the way we will always be ready to
embrace Christ whenever and wherever he comes. We know that when
Christ came into the world the first time, some people were ready, but
most people were not.
Mary Immaculate was ready and said a hearty "yes" to God's will.
Joseph was ready and therefore capable of adapting quickly to God's
mysterious plans. The shepherds were ready, vigilant at night, to run
to Bethlehem as soon as they heard the news. The Magi were ready, so
ready in fact that they were able to discern the newborn king's
presence through the presence of a star.
On the other hand, Herod was not ready, too caught up in his own pride
and sensuality to recognize the source of his authority. The
inn-keepers were not ready, so caught up in their business that they
could not find the time and space to house their Creator. The
scholars of the law were not ready to make even the short six mile
journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to learn from the Divine
Legislator. The vast majority of the Jewish people, who had been
awaiting the advent of their Messiah for centuries, were simply not
prepared when at last he came. The surest way for us to be ready for
Christ when he comes in the future is to be ready for him now. The
same Christ whom the shepherds and Magi adored in Bethlehem comes to
us in the Eucharist, in an even more humble disguise.
Our response to Jesus in the Eucharist now is the true indication of
whether we are awake or asleep; whether we are like Noah or so many of
his contemporaries; whether we are imitating Mary and Joseph, the
Shepherds and the Magi; or whether we are behaving more like the
inn-keepers, or the scholars of the law and Herod. How we respond in
this year is therefore a test of our sincerity and faithfulness to
God. How would we have responded two-thousand years ago if we were in
Bethlehem? The best indication is how we respond now when Christ is
here with us. In this new liturgical year, let us get it right.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, has come. He is here with us now in the
Eucharist. Come, let us adore Him.
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the
... for the strength, healing and speedy recovery of:
- Damaso Guevara, Eligia Fernando, Sr. Belen Latorre, DC
- Fr. Santos Mena, S.J.
- Tom Diokno
- Epifania Ylaya
... Good health: Guevarra Family
... for Baby Brodie Allen Kee
... Birthday: Robert Ong
... for the eternal repose of the soul of Sr. Serena Escarcha, DC.
Eternal rest grant unto them and may perpetual light shine upon them.
May they and all the dearly departed rest in peace.
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary.
- Birthday: Isis T. So
- Birthday: Laura M. Marnelego
... for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers
and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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