Friday, December 7, 2012

On the First Sunday of Advent

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Today is the new year of the Church – the start of a new liturgical year. Holy Mother Church has a very peculiar way of celebrating her new year. While most cultures would spend the New Year in thinking of new beginnings, the Church spends it by meditating on the end. Recalling the words of the Lord about frightening signs in the heavens and in the seas, the Church anticipates that point in time to which all history leads. The New Year of the Church brings us a year closer to that end of all times. It will inevitably come and no one can escape it: “For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” (There is even a rumor that this will happen on December 21 this year.) The end is near. It will really happen.
But the Church does not meditate on such things in order to engage in some scare tactics. The perplexity of nations comes from what they do not know. “People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken.” They do not know why these things take place. They could not make sense of all these.

But we are not perplexed because we know what will happen. We are told by the Lord: “When these things begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads.” Why? It is because “they shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” And His coming will the time of our redemption: “Your redemption is at hand.” It will be the time when our Lord will fulfill all his promises to those who strive to be faithful to him: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.”

The definitiveness of the Lord’s return becomes the occasion for the Church to remind us to “be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” The Catechism reminds us: “Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.” (CCC, 675) “The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God's victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.” (CCC, 677)

Jesus, I trust in you! O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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