Sunday, November 27, 2016

1st Sunday of Advent: Be Prepared!

What is Advent?
We are now in the holy season of Advent where we prepare for both the coming of Christ at Christmas and the second coming at the end of time.  It is a spiritual period in which to meditate on these two mysteries and prepare for them.  We use the wreath and 4 candles to mark down the 4 weeks before Christmas.

Three of the candles are purple and one is pink.  The purple symbolizes preparation through penance and prayer.  Purple is also used during Lent.  Another way to see it is purple is a physical sign of healing. When we get hurt, the injury becomes purple.  During the time of healing, it remains purple until it clears up.  Sin hurts us and we need time to heal from it by using the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, Prayer, Fasting, Indulgences and a genuine Spiritual life.

The pink is for the third Sunday or Gaudete Sunday which means “Sunday of Joy.”   We are joyous because we are getting closer to Christ’s birth.  As each week goes, we light the candle that corresponds to that week.


Today's readings tell us that we must be prepared. The first reading tells us of God establishing His house on the highest mountain. All nations will stream toward it and will want to climb it.  We see the Catholicity of God's plan. He reaches out to all peoples around the world. From Zion shall go forth the instruction or the Gospel (Mark 16:15). We gather together at Mass on this first Sunday of Advent to prepare for Christ's coming. We prepare for Him rejoicing to climb this mountain and be with Him as the Responsorial Psalm states today. God is returning and will judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). We must be awake as we read in the second reading.  Our salvation is nearer and the day is at hand, we are told. Because Jesus may return at any moment, we must live as if each day is our last or in holiness (Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5). We must not live a life of sin (Ephesians 5:11).  Paul describes the bad behavior of those in his time in the second reading.

Unfortunately, not much has changed. Even in the 21st century, we still see horrific behavior even within the Church. This must end. We must be ready for Christ's return and put aside the robes of perdition and replaced them with the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 61:10, Galatians 3:27). In the Gospel, Jesus reminds the disciples and us today of the days leading up to the Great Flood (Genesis 7). The people heard the warnings but did not care. They were eating, drinking, partying in sin as if nothing mattered.  Then the flood came and flushed them away just like we flush other things.  The last day will be like this. Many will be caught off guard. They will live life thinking Jesus will never come and bam, He comes. We must stay away, as Christ says. No one will know the day the Lord will return (Matthew 24:36). We must take each day as if it were our last and be prepared. This is what the season of Advent is all about. We not only commemorate the coming of Christ on Christmas, but await His second day. We shout maranatha!  Let us praise Christ always and be prepared for His second coming! O Come O Come Emmanuel and save the captive world.

Here are some reflections by our saints:

"Christ did not forbid eating, drinking and marrying when he said "As in the days of Noah, they were eating, drinking, marrying, and being given in marriage." He would never destroy what he himself established. Instead, he was commanding that what we do with our bodies, we do spiritually and to the glory of God so that our flesh might be made spiritual on account of the spiritual purposes for which we use it.…

Before the flood, people were fleeing from the fear of God and doing nothing for his glory. Everything they did was only for their own flesh. Whenever they ate or drank, they ate and drank only to satisfy their bodily desires, not to glorify God as the apostle had commanded. What Christ wanted to say here is that it will be like this again near the end of the world.…

At the end of the world, the destruction will be universal and sudden like it was "in the days of Noah." Just as every creature of the earth was destroyed in the flood, except only those who escaped in the ark, so also at the consummation of the world every heresy will be destroyed, but only one ark will be saved—the church of Christ, composed of the righteous. Everything outside of the ark died in the flood. Likewise, at the end of the world whoever is found to be outside the one true church will perish."
— St. John Chrysostom

(Homily 50," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 14-28, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 208.)

"To teach us that our ignorance of the date of his return (which his silence has kept hidden from everyone) is not without its usefulness, Christ warns us to keep all his commandments. We should also be occupied with constant prayer in order to guard against the coming of the thief. For the thief is the devil who seeks to invade our bodily homes with the darts of his thoughts and allurements in order to ruin us while we are sleepy and careless. It is good therefore that we be prepared. Our ignorance of the day of Christ's return should provoke us to be careful as we eagerly await his coming."
— St. Hilary of Poitiers

("On Matthew 26.6," quoted in Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 14-28, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 210.)

"Or, Two men will be out in the field, found performing the same labour, sowing corn together, but not reaping the same fruit of their labour. The two women grinding together we may understand to be the Synagogue and the Church, which seem to grind together in the Law, and to make of the same Scriptures meal of the commandments of God."
— St. Jerome

(Quoted in Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 1 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 835.)

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