Saturday, December 23, 2017

Advent 1: Caught in the Act

May He not catch us asleep!
Jesus, I trust in you!

The prophet Isaiah looked back at that time when God came down to save his people “with the mountains quaking before (him), while (he) wrought awesome deeds (they) could not hope for, nor heard of from of old.” He was referring to the time of the Exodus when God brought out his people from the slavery of Egypt with such mighty wonders: He divided the Red Sea so that his people may walk through it and He descended on Mt. Sinai with so much glory. Now that his people had gone astray, Isaiah asked: “Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways and harden our hearts that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants…Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down…” And God answered Isaiah’s prayer. He came down in person and even worked wonderful miracles beyond the people’s expectation. But Israel did “not recognize the day of their visitation.” They crucified him for they did not know that he was the King of glory. Their hearts were blinded by their obsession with a political messiah who would have driven away the Roman oppressors that failed to recognize the one “who comes in the Name of the Lord” to save them from the greatest oppression of all: sin.

The Lord will come again, no longer in the appearance of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes but as a judge sitting upon the clouds of heaven. He will as the Master who had entrusted each of his servants with a task to do. As in the parables we heard 2 Sundays ago, he will demand from us an accounting of what he entrusted to us. He will come at an hour we least expect. And so the Lord warns us: “Watch; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming…May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.” Isaiah said: “Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of your ways.”

And this is really the question: when the Lord comes now, will he find doing right? Will we be found being mindful of his ways? “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the face of the earth?” It would be terrible if he comes today and finds us preoccupied with the frenzy of the holidays. It would be terrible if at his coming, “there is no one who calls upon (his) name, (there is no one) who rouses himself to cling to (the Lord).” Perhaps, as we busy ourselves buying gifts for the holidays, we must be mindful of what St. Paul said: “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Are we really waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus? Are we pursuing his spiritual gifts? Do we concern ourselves with receiving the gift of Divine Mercy in the sacrament of confession? In busying ourselves eating at Christmas parties, do we concern ourselves with eating the Bread of Life in the Sacred Liturgy? Remember that Christmas is made up of 2 words: Christ and Mass. St. Paul said that “you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus.” It is in the Mass that we enter into that fellowship. Do we concern ourselves with drawing away from the noise of the holiday carnivals in order to meditate on the Word of God which reveals to us Jesus Christ? Are we really waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus?

Advent reminds us that our concern is to be “irreproachable on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.” At his coming, may he not find us eating and drinking, marrying, trading and building. May he find us watchful in prayer, busy in doing what is right, being mindful of his ways. Let us call on him and cling to him. Stay sober and alert, for we do not know when the Master will return.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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