WELCOME TO GOD’S HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH!
*** Reflection ***
On this first Sunday of Advent we recall our Church’s longstanding tradition that Advent is a time to mark the three comings of Christ. First is his coming as one of us, a human born of a woman two thousand years ago. Second is his coming at the end of time. Third is his coming into our hearts. As we begin this Advent season, let us prepare anew a place in our hearts for the Lord so that we, like Mary, can bring him into a world that sorely needs his presence.
What’s another year? was Johnny Logan’s winning song at Eurovision 1980! Today we begin another year – a liturgical new year – with the songs of Isaiah heralding the season of Advent. We begin a cycle that carries us right through our Christian story – from Advent to Christmas – on to Jesus’ Public life – into Lent and the drama of Holy Week culminating in the celebration of Easter and the Easter season till the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. On it goes till Advent time comes round again and the cycle begins for another year. What a gift to have this rhythm and pattern in our Catholic lives! It provides a general framework for all the bits and pieces of prayers, readings and intercessions during the different seasons. More to it, we are called to insert this cycle into the cycle of our lives and rhythms of our family, community and country! And so our lives go on.
And it goes on in this season of Advent with great expectations. Waiting with expectancy not just for the first coming of Jesus at Bethlehem but also for his second coming at the end of time! Before we had cell phones of skype we depended on the humble landline. I knew a mother whose son in New York faithfully rang his mother at eight o’clock every Sunday evening. As it neared the time her eyes were on the phone; no call in or out was allowed as she waited! She would not miss the joy of hearing her son’s voice and all his news. A model of Advent waiting! The key attitude is one of being alert – being ready – so as not to miss the time of his coming – ‘you must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’. Time was when those words sounded like a warning calculated to instill fear. A God ready to pounce and catch us off guard with our affairs not in order!
A little reflection reveals how incorrect such a reaction is. The coming of the Son of Man at the first Christmas was and is the best of good news. A gift beyond all gifts – a welcome gift beyond all our imaginings! It calls for rejoicing and gratitude. The appropriate emotion must be one, not of fear, but one of awe and wonder. ‘Is it true? and is it true, this most tremendous tale of all…a baby in an ox’s stall? The Maker of the stars and sea become a child on earth for me…that God was man in Palestine and lives today in bread and wine’ gives expression to the utter amazement of the poet. (John Betjamen)
Wander into that stable on the first Christmas night! See there a poor young woman with her man and a new baby. Retrace your steps to the holy city of Jerusalem and tell the priests what you saw. Tell them that helpless vulnerable baby is the Anointed One, the long awaited Messiah – the Son of God. They would tell you that you were out of your mind; they would tell you that you are blaspheming; they would tell you that God is not like that. They have studied the scriptures and they know God is not like that. But God is like that.
That is the surprise. The presence of God among us is not what we expect, not where we expect. That’s how we miss it. As we begin the season of Advent we are warned not to miss it. Be alert. Be ready. Be awake and look in the most unlikely places. Look in the doorway where the homeless sleep. Look in the refugee camps. Look in the hospitals and the nursing homes. Not the most comfortable places and spaces! Look at the new born babies. Look at the wrinkled senior citizens. So wonderful to be alive wide-eyed like a child at the beginning of our new year of grace! Give it a heartfelt and expectant cead mile failte! By: Stan Mellett
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44
“Be ready for the coming of the Son of Man”
Jesus said to his disciples, “For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an least expected hour.”