Sunday, December 1, 2019

First Sunday of Advent: Be Awake!

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

Keep watch and wait. This the main message of today's readings. We are now in the season of Advent. A new Liturgical year A cycle has begun. We begin with Christ just like we ended the last Liturgical year with Christ the King.  The first reading tells us of God's house being established at the high of mountains.  All nations will stream toward it. The people will seek this location and seek God there asking to walk in the light of the Lord. Advent is connected to this. We are on a spiritual journey to God who is the light. The Catholic Church is a collection of all people from every nation. She is the body of Christ leading us to Christ her spouse. This spiritual journey calls for us to make changes in our lives. We cannot live as we have in the past.

We must turn our swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. In other words, the things in our lives which we used to engage in human nonsense and violence must be transformed to serve a purpose of life. Swords and spears do nothing but hurt others and ourselves. They serve no ultimate good purpose. While we can use them for self defense, which is not bad, we must seek to create a world where we do not need to defend ourselves because the only rule will be love. This is easier said than done. Human beings do not trust each other. Human beings prefer to be isolated and live in gloom and doom. This is not what the Catholic faith is about. We are the Easter people and alleluia is our song, as Saint Pope John Paul II said.  This is why today's responsorial Psalm says that we must go rejoicing to the house of the Lord. 

The Catholic faith must be about joy, not anger or bitterness. Unfortunately, we will always find some Catholics within every rank who see the faith as the Pharisees did. The faith to them is about judging others and nitpicking faults. Whether it is about the liturgy and claiming one form is better than another to attacking priests who wear short sleeve collar shirts.  The Church has no shortage of these Pharisees who promote gloom and doom. Rather, we must be awake from sleep, as the second reading tells us.  We must set the dark aside and seek the daylight.  We must conduct ourselves as in the day and not like those who party at night engaging in lust and drunkenness. This is what it means to be a good practicing Catholics. Ignore those who see the faith as a means to attack others, including our pope. Ignore those who can never say anything positive and just judge claiming to be righteous. This is not Catholicism.

We must be ready. Jesus will return. We must not be like those people in the days of Noah who laughed at his warnings and continued to live life as if nothing was going to happen. Jesus uses this analogy in today's Gospel.  In the days of Noah, the people continued to do whatever they did and ignored Noah.  Then out of nowhere, the rain came and washed away everyone. We must be focused on the task at hand and not think nothing is going to happen simply because we do not see angels blowing trumpets in the sky.  Jesus will return and it will be like a thief in the night without warning. This is why I say to ignore those Catholics out there who are focused on nostalgia for pre-Vatican II days and simply live their faith to attack and judge others, including the pope. These are like those from Noah's time who ignored God and focused on living in the night time, so to speak. They live life thinking they are doing right when they are doing evil. 

They live life as if God is not watching their evil deeds or as if saying a praying in Latin or receiving on the tongue is ensuring their salvation.  God does not hear the prayers of the wicked and Communion can bring condemnation, Scripture tells us.  Let us be like Noah who trusted the Lord and prepared. He built the ark and spread the message to all. Noah focused on saving others and not himself. We must be ready and not slack off. Jesus tells us this in the Gospel. We must stay awake for we will not know when the Lord will come. Like Noah, we must be ready.   This is what Advent is about. We must call out to the Lord and be ready for Him. 

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