First Sunday of Advent (C)

For many people the anticipation of something is better than the real thing, I mean, there is a wonderful feeling attached to anticipation: “I just can’t wait for this movie”, “I am so excited about this book” “Can’t wait for vacation, or for the upcoming wedding!”… However and sadly marketers have pushed too much the anticipatory periods further and further back. Ours HEB’s has all the Christmas paraphernalia already up and ready…

Our Catholic faith has always used this anticipation period as well but with prudence and wisdom. Even in the Old Testament we are told constantly by the prophets that we are waiting for something, so for us Advent season is the time for preparing the celebrating of the Incarnation of our God, as simple as this.

In our marketing culture, we all know that many things have overshadowed this event, Santa or Rudolph have become the icons for this new age... I saw the preview of an ultra-violent action movie the other day that they proclaimed was the perfect Thanksgiving Day entertainment! All sorts of things are pushed as Christmas events that do not reflect the original source of the event… anyway! We already know this, so this Sunday we begin a good season to put Christ back, to try to bring back the feeling of anticipation that the Jews felt as they patiently waited for a Messiah, to feel the anticipation that John the Baptist was preaching about, the coming of someone who would bring about a new kingdom, a new peace, a new world order.

As Catholics, we need to use the liturgies of the next four Sundays and allow the readings and the traditions, like the Advent candles or Advent calendars, instill in us a longing and an excitement that this great event is to be celebrated again. That God has so loved us that he takes on our body, our mortality, and humbles himself to arrive as a small helpless baby… We just celebrated Thanksgiving, so for those of us who were not able to come to Mass on Thanksgiving, there will still be a real sense of all the things for which we need to give thanks.

The Gospel today begins our year long reading of St. Luke’s Gospel, and the first idea that comes to our mind is that the church is here to stay, I mean, we always have to be on guard for that second coming. We need to prepare ourselves. We need to avoid dissipation, drunkenness and the material cares of life. If we as Christians remain firm amid the disorder of the world and avoid temptations, we will be prepared for his coming. Jesus has already come, yes, but he is coming again, and so we use the Advent season with its colors and readings and traditions to help us keep our minds on the whole idea of the ‘coming’. We must keep awake to that idea.

Archbishop Gustavo summarizes this Gospel in a very beautiful way: “Darkening skies, longer nights announce the winter of life. But the child in us looks for the sign of love in the sky, the rainbows of fall, the stars that brighten the earth, the arms that reach down to lift us up. We love to light the candle that dispels the dark. We can’t wait to open the next window on the Advent calendar.”

Jesus promises us a return. We need to focus on that – which gives us the Advent hope.

So as we await the birth of our God as a little child, let the Gospel today remind us that despite the fears that the world creates us in us, we need to stay awake and keep our eye on the prize – Jesus himself. This is the Good News we anticipate today; let us give thanks in the celebration of the Eucharist and invoking the sweet name of Mary, our blessed Mother!

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