First Sunday of Advent (B)

Finally here we are: Advent season, a season of hope, and Hope is certainly the appropriate feeling for this particular time in our American time. We are in the middle of a new election cycle. Presidents come and go. Nations themselves rise and fall. But Jesus Christ, the One who is the Eternal Word of the Father, the One who entered into our history by becoming one of us, the One who is at the Right Hand of the Father, Jesus Christ is forever. Only in God be at rest my soul, from him comes my hope, we pray in one of the most beautiful psalms[1]...

Today’s Gospel tells us that we need to hope, and we need to watch, however how can we watch if we are distracted? If our lives are distracted we are not going to be ready when the Lord comes. If our hope is in Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, or any of the material goods of the world, if we get caught up in the sickness of the world, if we use drink, sex and what have you as a relief from our difficulties, we are not going to be ready for His particular entrance into our lives.

            What is it that you hope for, that we hope for? We all hope for love. In one way or other, our heart is always hoping for love and tenderness and affection. The young hope for a person they can commit themselves to and grow in love. Beauty and virility will fade with time. Only the sacrificial love of the Lord is forever. If the young place their hope in the Lord, and are open to His Love, and live a life of sacrificial love, giving themselves to others and rejecting all selfish inclinations, they will be ready when God calls them to love through another person.

            We single people may not be called to marriage but are called to expand the possibilities of making His Love real. If we stay united to Him, and are open to Him, we will be ready to make His love real, in ways we least expect. Life is beautiful when we hope in the Lord and are ready for His call.

I am certain that every single person can tell a story of how life has been enriched by hoping in God and responding when He called. The married persons also are continually called to grow in His Love. But it takes tremendous sacrifice. The way of the Lord is the way of sacrificial love. You hope in the Lord. The opportunity comes for you to express his love to your spouse.

Today we heard the voice of the Lord: Be Watchful. Be Alert. None of us know what the Lord has in store for us. Will we be taking the same courses next year, going to the same school, living in the same neighborhood, doing the same job? We don’t know. Will our family be bigger or smaller? We don’t know. Will we even be here in Texas, or here on earth? Whatever the year, whatever our lives bring us, all will be wonderful, exciting, beautiful and full of love, as long as our hope is in the Lord.

Last Sunday we celebrated the end of the liturgical year; endings are not always endings but are opportunities for God to bring new beginnings, new hope. It is not that we have possibility in ourselves, but that God is a God of new things and so all things are possible[2]. Let us prepare the way of the Lord, let us repeat many times today the responsorial psalm: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.[3]

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. How do we prepare ourselves? By fervent and daily prayer, by being faithful to our commitments and state in life, by practicing acts of self-denial, by carrying our cross daily, by kindness towards others (especially members of our family), by avoiding all sarcasm and unjust criticism of others.

Like the early Christians, we should yearn for the coming of Christ. They prayed, "Come, Lord Jesus!" Now he will come to us in this Mass, offering us his body and blood in the Eucharist. Let us receive him with open hearts and dedicate ourselves to him anew. If we can do that much, we will have accomplished in some part what the Church bids us accomplish during this blessed Advent of 2011. Be prepared. The Son of Man is coming at the time you least expect. Come, Lord Jesus!

[1] Sunday 27th November, 2011. 1st Sunday of Advent. YEAR B. Readings: Isaiah 63:16-17; 64:1, 3-8. Lord, make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved—Ps 79(80):2‑3, 15-16, 18-19. 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Mark 13:33-37.
[2] Isa 42:9, Mt 19:26, Mk 14:36
[3] Ps 80. 

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