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Posts Tagged ‘Preparation’

Advent: The Coming of the Lord Continues

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2012/12/21 at 9:11 AM

“The word ‘advent’ means ‘coming’ or ‘presence’, said the Pope: “In the ancient world it indicated the visit of the king or emperor to a province; in the language of Christianity it refers to the coming of God, to his presence in the world; a mystery that involves the entire cosmos and all of history, and with two culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ”.

Benedict XVI explained that these two culminating moments are first the Incarnation, and then the glorious return of Christ at the end of time. “These two moments, chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how far apart they are – touch us deeply, because by His death and resurrection Jesus has already accomplished that transformation of humanity and of the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before that end, it is necessary that the Gospel be proclaimed to all nations, as Jesus says in the Gospel of Saint Mark. The coming of Christ is continuous; the world must be infused by His presence. This permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel requires our continual collaboration; and the Church … in communion with her Lord, collaborates in this coming of the Lord, in which His glorious return has already begun”.

The Word of God traces “a line of conduct to pursue in order to be ready for the coming of the Lord. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to the disciples, ‘Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life … Be vigilant at all times and pray’, inviting them to simplicity and prayer. The apostle Paul encourages them to ‘increase and abound in love’ among themselves and towards others. … In the midst of the turmoil of the world, or the desert of indifference and materialism, Christians accept the salvation of God and bear witness to it by following a different way of life. … The community of believers is a sign of the love of God, of His justice that is already present and working in history, but not yet fully realised, and that therefore should always be awaited, invoked, and sought after with patience and courage”.

Vatican Information Service #121203

Do You Love Jesus by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/02/04 at 9:11 AM

 • Do you love Christ? Is Jesus your friend? Is our Lord the highest priority in your life? Are you willing to forsake everything for the sake of your relationship with Him?

• Are you willing to give up your possessions, your money, your reputation, your friends and family, your very life for the sake of Christ and His Church?

• This is a subject St. Paul takes up in our second reading today. Think about his words for a moment: “I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things…that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.”

• St. Paul makes the very basic point that Christ Himself is our prize! And while he hasn’t yet attained the eternal possession of Christ in heaven, he continues his pursuit of this in the hope that he may one day possess Jesus eternally.

• And as Christians we must do the same! Why? Because Christ first loved us.

• Moreover, Jesus is the only path to heaven. If we hope one day to enjoy the eternal bliss of heaven, we must know Christ, love Christ, and serve Christ.

• We are now getting close to Holy Week and the end of Lent. Lent is the particular time of the year that Holy Mother Church calls us to renew our relationship with Christ and to be reconciled to Him.

• For Lent is not simply our time to prepare for Easter; it’s also our preparation for eternity.

• Perhaps sometimes we approach the thought of conversion and reconciliation with God with some amount of dread and fear, for being converted and reconciled to God requires that we face up to our sins, because it is our sins that destroy our relationship with the Lord.

• Perhaps we fear facing up to our sins because we fear God’s wrath and judgment. Maybe we fear that God is waiting to punish us.

• Yet, in truth, God has created us to live in relationship with Him, to be in friendship with Him. And God has really gone out of His way to make this friendship with Him possible.

• Ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, there has been a barrier between God and man. But God has overcome our sinfulness.

• We see God’s work of overcoming man’s sinfulness writ large in the stories of the Old Testament that speak of our salvation history.

• The stories of Abraham, Noah and the flood, Moses and the Israelites being delivered from Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea and their 40 years in the desert all show the great lengths to which God is willing to go to save mankind and reconcile us to Himself.

• The prophet Isaiah alludes to these mighty works in our first reading when he reminds us of how the Lord opened the way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, and of how He has put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland.

• These waters of grace through which the Israelites passed in the Red Sea and of which they drank in the desert are still given to us today through the Sacrament of Baptism.

• Just as the Israelites were freed from the slavery of Egypt by passing through the waters of the Red Sea, so too are we freed from the slavery of sin as we pass through the waters of baptism.

• Today’s first reading is a prophecy by Isaiah that foretells how the Israelites will be restored to their land and the miraculous natural events that will occur along with their restoration.

• But this passage was not meant to be understood just in literal terms. It was also meant to be understood spiritually, and spiritual writers see in this reading an analogy for how God desires to work in our souls. In short, He is a God who restores us.

• Even though our souls may be a desert wasteland because of our sins, the Lord can make a river of grace gush forth within us. Just as God restored the Israelites to Judea, He can restore our souls to their natural beauty. And this He does through the sacraments.

• If we open up our souls to God with heartfelt contrition and sorrow for our sins, He will flood us with His healing and His peace.

• This is all possible because of God’s mercy! Last week I mentioned the point made by St. Thomas Aquinas that God’s all-powerful nature is most perfectly expressed in His mercy.

• We see a great example of this in today’s Gospel. Like last week’s story of the Prodigal Son, today’s Gospel really shows us what God is like. This week’s story gives us some real insight into how our Lord deals with sinners.

• Think for a moment how Christ treats this sinful woman. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees who want to stone her, Christ doesn’t condemn her. Instead, He forgives her and tells her to go and sin no more. Jesus doesn’t excuse her sin; He simply encourages her to stop doing it.

• My friends, this is the God we worship. He is a God who doesn’t condemn us, but who is always ready to forgive us when we’re truly sorry and ask for forgiveness. And that should give us all great confidence as we approach the confessional.

• Our Lord is not harsh and judgmental, but gentle and loving. He seeks to heal us, to forgive us, and to be one with us. And He encourages to live good and holy lives, putting our sinfulness behind us.

• Note, however, Jesus’ last words to the woman: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” He tells her quite clearly to desist from her sins. While He is compassionate to her, He does not turn away from correcting her.

• Brothers and sisters: our Lord is constantly looking for opportunities to reconcile with us. He desires above all else to give us His mercy. Our Lord loves us with a depth and an intensity that we cannot fathom.

• The truth of His love is a reality that we are reminded of every time we look at a crucifix.

• Considering this unfathomable love of our Lord, can we not make Him our highest priority in

life?

• Therefore, my brothers and sisters, let us be willing to forsake all else for the love of Christ, which is beyond all understanding. Let us place all of our hope in the mercy of our Lord, by which we will be saved.

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

Season of Advent

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/12/08 at 12:00 AM

 • High atop Mt. Carmel in northern Israel is a beautiful view of a very interesting part of the world. To the west is the clear, blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. To the north are the mountains of Lebanon. And to the south and east is the plain of Megiddo.

• While it looks like a very peaceful and beautiful area, this plain – which contains the intersection of some of the main trading routes of ancient times – has been the site of many important battles over the centuries.

• In fact historians believe that more battles have been fought here than in any other place in the world.

• And it is in this area where Armageddon is located, which the Book of Revelation records will be the place where the forces of evil will gather to wage battle against Christ and the forces of good at the end of time when our Lord will come to earth once again.

• Looking across that plain a few weeks ago, it was difficult not to think about our Lord’s second coming, and indeed that is certainly what the Church is calling us to do at this time in the year.

• Today we enter once again into the season of Advent. While we typically think of Advent as the time of the year in which we prepare for our Lord’s coming as man in the Incarnation, it is also a time to prepare for His second coming.

• Our Gospel story from Luke speaks of our Lord’s second coming. We are told that the Son of Man will come “in a cloud with power and great glory”, and that “there will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.”

• The theological word we use to describe our Lord’s second coming is parousia. This Greek word literally means “presence” or “arrival.” In secular usage it refers to the arrival of the king or emperor in a city on a royal visit.

• For Christians, the parousia refers to Christ’s Second Coming or “presence” at the end of history. Throughout the New Testament there are numerous references to it in both the Gospels and the letters of St. Paul.

• Moreover, last week’s feast of Christ the King was meant to remind us of the kingly character of Jesus, i.e., that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus is the Sovereign King to whom we must all render an account on that last day.

• As Catholics we believe that before Christ’s second coming, the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers and there will be great persecutions from the evil one (cf. 2 Thes 2:2ff).

• Then the parousia will occur amid cosmic travail (cf. Mk 13:24ff; Rev 8:7ff, 9:1ff; 2 Peter 3:6ff); the Son of Man will come on the clouds shining with radiant light (cf. Matt 24:30ff).

• Christ’s mere appearance will obliterate Satan (2 Thes 2:8; Rev 20:9ff), and the dead will be raised. This will be the definitive triumph of good over evil.

• The great judgment will occur and the hearts of all men will be opened and their innermost thoughts will be laid bare. Each person will then be rewarded or punished according to his works and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.

• At this time, the world as we know it will end. All creatures will recognize and acknowledge Jesus as Lord. And Jesus will fully establish the Father’s kingdom.

• It can be a fearful thing to consider that someday we will all have to render an account of our lives to this King – an account of both the good things and the bad things that we have done.

• Indeed, today’s Gospel tells us some people will die of fright in anticipation of what will happen at the second coming. Yet when this happens we are told not to be afraid, but to stand erect and raise our heads because our redemption is at hand!

• In truth, my friends, as Christians the parousia should not cause us to tremble with fear, but rather it should cause us to tremble with joy and hope!

• You see, my friends, our king is no ordinary king. Christ the King is a shepherd at heart. And if we truly know this great King as we should, we will find that there is really nothing to fear in Him at all. All that we need fear is our own human weakness.

• As Christians we know that as long as we live on this earth, we are in exile from our true home: Heaven. And Christ is coming again at the end of time to save us, to take us from this land of exile to our heavenly home. He is coming to conquer sin and death forever!

• And Advent is a time of the year that we remind ourselves of these truths and earnestly seek to prepare for this second coming of our Lord, while we also prepare ourselves for the beautiful Feast of Christmas, which celebrates His first coming as a man.

• The way that we prepare for both of these comings of Christ is by learning to love and by striving for holiness. As St. Paul tells us in the second reading today, we must abound in love for one another.

• St. Paul tells us that we are called to be blameless in holiness, conducting ourselves in a way that pleases God, accepting and living according to the teachings of our faith that have been handed on to us.

• This requires that we foster within ourselves not only a knowledge of our Church’s teachings and a deep desire to conform our lives to those teachings, but also that we cultivate a sincere contrition for those times that we have failed to live out the truths of our faith.

• It is for this reason that during the season of Advent the color violet becomes prominent in our liturgies, for violet symbolizes contrition for sin and a desire for repentance.

• And so as we enter once again into this hopeful and joy-filled season of Advent, as we anticipate our Lord’s two comings: both His coming in the Incarnation and His second coming in the parousia, let us take the time to truly prepare ourselves spiritually.

• Make the time to really pray, and when you pray, meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation and the mystery of Christ’s second coming at the end of time.

• And go to confession, especially if you haven’t been in awhile. There is no better way to prepare your soul for God’s manifold gifts than by cleaning out all the sin that weighs us down in life.

• My dear friends, our King is coming, and He shall not delay! Therefore, let us prepare ourselves well by cultivating within our souls a true repentance for our sins and by striving for genuine holiness.

• And have no fear of Him. While it is true that our Lord is the mightiest of kings, He is also the most gentle and merciful.

• May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever. Amen.

Copyright 2009 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC