Advent – 1st Sunday – November 27, 2016 (Year A)
1st Reading Isaiah 2:1 – 5 Procrastinate no more
The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it.
Psalm 122 – “A Pilgrim’s Prayer” a song of ascent. I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2nd Reading Romans 13:11-14 Night is gone, day is at hand
“Awareness of the End of Time” And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand…but put on the Lord Jesus Christ (armor of Light) and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
Gospel Matthew 24:37-44 Go to God
“The unknown day & hour”(Jesus’ final sermon). For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man…Therefore stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…so too you also must be prepared for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Like the boy scouts, girl scouts, firemen and paramedics, doctors, lawyers, priests, and lay ministers through the earning of badges, practice, manuals, law books, and the Bible and traditions we repeat our training, our advent year after year. Remember the old adage “practice makes perfect” and “where your heart is there will be your treasure”.
Seventy-three bible verses, 329 instances in the Bible thesaurus and 136 times the word “prepare” appears should confirm that to prepare is important. Through parables Jesus helps us to understand the bridesmaids stay awake, the virgins have enough oil, and the people invited to the banquet attend. The faithful slave and the one who increases his talents are those that prepare. Also note that not only do we prepare, but God prepared/created the universe and us, and Jesus prepares a place for us.
Prepare – in the Latin Prae (before) Parare (make ready), in the Greek “fit together”, in Hebrew “be ready, readiness.”
Prepare…When we strive to be ready for a guest, a wedding, a graduation party, a vacation or vocation, or when our church tries to be ready for a baptism or a funeral, we gather the materials needed, towels & soap, pots & pans, a band, picnic tables, a camper, holy water, and holy oils. We make lists. We enlist others. We make room for them. We prepare a place for our guest of honor.
Advent is our chance to prepare spiritually for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. Catechism #524 notes that by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. And #1171 commemorates the beginning of our salvation and communicates to us the first fruits of the Paschal Mystery that we share at every Mass.
The Catholic Prayer Bible, Lectio Divina Edition, page 24 discusses eschatology, the branch of theology concerned with the last things, the end of the world. Life is similar; there are those who do not understand and those who do not care who could be considered the unprepared. We have choices to make to choose God as a guest in our hearts, to choose love, to be prepared but be extravagant, give up our life as the caterpillars we are like and exchange it for the life of the butterfly, a life completely different than the one we know.
Focus on the present and having God with us each day; live the present with faith. When death comes, it will be a transition not an ending. We will be at the banquet with the bridegroom in the place he has prepared for us.
Pope John XXIII writes in his Journal of a Soul that he begins again everyday prepared to meet God and at the end of each day states, he has failed; but again each morning he prepares to meet God. And so, he, like all of us, not only begins again each day but we begin again every Advent to acknowledge God with us as a babe, as a teacher, as our daily bread, as companion on the journey and as the one who will greet us at the heavenly banquet.
Like the fire in the ashes Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister, speaks of in “The Fire in These Ashes” “with our preparing, we ignite the fire to light our way to God.”
- What concrete spiritual preparations will you make this Advent to welcome God to be with you each day and night?
- How might you rearrange your current schedule or calendar to make a sacred space for God?
- How could you prepare him room, a place for him at your inn?
(Cynthia Ingram, OblSB, Ridgely, MD)