FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
First Sunday of Advent (A)
Isaiah 2:1-5 | Psalm 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 | Romans 13:11-14 | Matthew 24:37-44
This Sunday marks not only the first of four Sundays of the Advent season, but also the beginning of the new liturgical year. The themes for this Sunday's Mass are making peace in the soul, family, and neighborhood; ruling oneself by governing one's passions; and keeping vigilant for the coming of Christ.
Fr Regis asked his congregation one Sunday morning, “How many of you have forgiven their enemies”? About half held up their hands. He then repeated his question, "A lot of us may think of God as the final dispenser of forgiveness, actually, you and I have the power to forgive as well. So again, how many of you have forgiven those who wronged you? This time all held up their hands, except one small elderly lady. "Mrs Ramirez?” inquired the priest, "Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?" “I don’t have any.” she replied. smiling sweetly. “Mrs Ramirez, That is very rare. How old are you?” “Ninety-five,” she replied. "Oh Mrs Ramirez, what a blessing and a lesson to us all you are. Would you please come down here and tell us all how a person can live ninety-five years and not have an enemy in the world.” The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle, faced the community, and said “I outlived those old, ugly witches!”
One of the best known passages in the entire book of Isaiah is the magisterial vision in the second chapter in which God is pictured as the universal judge, issuing effective decrees and exercising authority over all the earth from the top of Mount Zion. All nations are gathered together by Him in peace. The prophet Isaiah envisions the new world order that will be established when the LORD comes. God calls us to peace and to live at peace with everyone. He encourages us to "beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks; our nation shall not lift up sword against another nation, neither shall we learn war anymore." This means that after "climbing the Lord’s mountain" and coming to peace with Him, we are called to be at peace with those around us. What ways can we share peace with those around us today?
A group of clergy were spending a couple of days at a cabin. In the evening they decided to tell each other their biggest temptation. Msgr Marcos, the most senior of them said, "Well, it's kind of embarrassing, but my big temptation is bad pictures. Once I even bought a copy of the For Him Magazine ." "My temptation is worse," said Fr Marlowe. "It's gambling. One Saturday instead of preparing my homily I went to Resorts World to play slot machines." "Mine is worse still," said Fr Ernesto. "I sometimes can't control the urge to drink. One time I actually broke into the sacramental wine." Rev. Harvey who is 6 months to becoming a priest was quiet. "Fathers, I hate to say this," he said, "but my temptation is worst of all. I love to gossip - and if you will excuse me, I'd like to make a few phone calls!"
In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul taught that the imminence of Christ's second coming makes it more urgent for Christians to live honorably. While acknowledging that no one is totally free of temptation, he urges his audience to throw off darkness and "put on the armor of light". We Christians who wait for the Lord's coming should spend no time in satisfying appetites for food, liquor, sex, or too much freedom, among many others. Instead, we must concentrate on doing what is good. In this season of Advent, do you have more of Jesus and less of yourself?
Fr Romerico and Pastor Joselito are standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that reads, "The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!" They planned to hold up the sign to each passing car. "Leave us alone you religious fanatics!" yelled the first driver as he sped by. From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash. "Do you think," said one clergy to the other, "we should just put up a sign that says 'Bridge Out' instead?"
In our Gospel, we are told that Jesus' followers must prepare themselves and be vigilant for his coming whenever it might occur. Jesus warns us of the danger of not getting ready. Disaster struck those who did not prepare for the flood. Disaster struck the master of the house who slept through the swift and sudden arrival—and departure—of the thief. Disaster struck those who were left behind; they were excluded from God’s kingdom. Those prepared for Christ's arrival would be taken into God's kingdom; however, those who were unready would be left behind in their own sinfulness. Our task: recognize his presence even now in our midst. That’s the vigilance of a Catholic Christian. Stay awake and be ready!
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum