First Sunday of Advent

Advent begins this year with the prophesy from Isaiah about the Mountain of the Lord’s House. It is crowded with people from every nation. Their goal is not the view, or to say they conquered a fourteener. Their goal is to learn the way of the Lord from the summit of the mountain. The prophecy goes on to say the Word of the Lord will flow from God’s Mountain. He will judge between all nations with such fairness that there would no longer be a need for war. People would beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. There would be no need of armed forces. People would not even train for war again[1].
That ideal is so meaningful for us when we consider our loved ones who are stationed in harms way in Middle East and throughout the world. "Some day, we tell ourselves, some day there will be no wars."
The ideal of Isaiah is meaningful when we consider the nations whose citizens are starving and who use money meant for aid to build up their own armed forces. As we see pictures of starving children in Somalia, Rwanda, and the Sudan, we say, "Some day, some day there will be no more wars. Some day the materials used for war will be transformed into materials used to provide food for the poor. Some day swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks."
Advent begins by reassuring us that the Day of the Lord is upon us. The transformation of the world has begun in Jesus Christ.
And what is it that we are to do to fulfill our part in the transformation of the world? We are to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way that the world will be saved from war and sufferings is through the Power of Jesus Christ. And the only way that the Power of Jesus Christ will take hold on the world is if we, His followers commit ourselves to Him.
Allow me to be mystical here. Every act of kindness and love, every sacrifice of self for another, is a small step in the transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God.
Conversely, every act of hatred, every act of selfishness, strengthens the power of evil that is destroying our world. The battle for the Lord is not something that will take place many years from now. It is a battle that we are engaged in right now and right here. We need to be part of this. We need to commit.
We are not Christians because we say we are Christians. We are not Christians because we have been baptized and receive the sacraments. We are Christians because we have put on Jesus Christ and really work hard to make His ways our ways. We are Christians because we are open to the transformation the Lord wishes to make in our lives. We are Christians because we are determined to be the reflection of God’s love that he created us to be.
We need to commit. Consider Christmas. Is Christmas a time to sacrifice our humanity to alcohol, drugs, sex and stuff? If so, then Christmas is really just a winter holiday of debauchery. If so, then we are enrolling in the army of the Evil One and fighting against the Lord. But if we are committed to Christianity, then Christmas will be a reflection of the Lord’s presence in our lives.
If we use the Christmas holidays as an opportunity to bury the hatchet and reconcile with those who have hurt us, if we use Christmas as an opportunity to share our time and treasure with the less fortunate, if we look for ways to be more loving to others, especially those within our homes, then we will be engaged in the Lord’s battle against evil.
We need to commit.
There are times that priests call people to the altar to commit their lives to the Lord and establish a personal relationship with Him. This is a good thing. But the commitment to the Lord has deeper implications than that which is personal. The commitment to the Lord has a mystical element of being part of the transformation of the world Jesus initiated at His birth.
Christianity is not just a faith. It is a lifestyle of transformation. We have been called to take our part in the transformation of the world from the terrors that exist right now to that ideal of Isaiah’s prophecy: the mountain of the Lord, the time of peace.
"So," we are told, "Stay awake, be prepared," for the Son of Man is coming.
And we are participants in His ultimate Victory.

[1] First Sunday of Advent A, December 2, 2007, Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5, Responsorial Psalm: 122: 1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
Ilustration: Claus Sluter, Well of Moses: Prophets David and Jeremiah (1395-1406), Stone, height 179 cm, Musée Archéologique (Dijon). Moses, David, Jeremiah, Zechariah Daniel and Isaiah stand before small niches of the fountain hexagonal base. Each prophets are identified by inscriptions and appropriate attributes. Six grieving angels hover above the prophets. Old Testament prophets appeared frequently in contemporary art to indicate the fulfilment of their prophecies of the coming of Christ. Sluter, however, invented a wholly novel composition. His prophets are life-size and placed near the eye level of the viewer, who must walk around the ensemble to see all the figures. Sluter's remarkable statues show angels and prophets varied in their poses. The attention to details signals Sluter's effort to make his statues as believable as possible. Their life-like quality was enhanced further by the polychromy applied by Jean Malouel and Herman of Cologne in 1402.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris