Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Matter of Priorities

Reflections on the Readings
First Sunday of Advent - November 27, 2011 - Year B
By Dennis S. Hankins

A Matter of Priorities!

"Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come." - Jesus

Time is a gift from God. Someone has said that how we use it becomes our gift to God.

If we use it to gain God's grace and forgiveness we will have invested our time wisely. If we are docile to the Holy Spirit and are quick to forgive one another we will have used our time for the things that really matter. If our families and friends see the goodness of God it will be when we take the time to be kind and generous and gentle and less suspicious. We waste the gift of time when we harbor resentment and point fingers of blame and shout each other down. It's not only a horrible waste of the time we are given on earth it is a wasteful use of the breath of God in us.

We need Advent don't we? We need this time to gain back our lives and reset our direction. The days are filled with less sunshine this time of year. But these are also days we invite more of the light of Christ into our hearts. Each week during Advent we will light one more candle to join the previous week's candle. By Christmas Vigil the Advent wreath will glow with the light of the candles and each one of us will be filled with the glorious light of Christ. As we give priority to waiting and watching and praying during these shortened days we are rewarded with a new and fresh understanding of the things that matter. And Christmas will come with fresher and deeper meaning for everyone.

The Advent scriptures are about the deepest hope and longing of the Church. Since the earliest days of the Church, the return of the Lord, his coming again, occupy the fervent prayers of the Church. This truth remains the blessed hope of every generation of the faithful. Its a hope we renew in a special way during these days before Christmas. Sure we should anticipate the glorious celebration of the Incarnation. But that moment in time reminds us that there is a time when Christ will crown his holy work of redemption with the shout of the Archangel and with the trumpet of God and we all shall go out to meet him. It is the fulness of time for which we live. And if we live in the fellowship of Jesus the Christ we have a living hope for which there are not words adequate to describe.

That day of the Lord does not come with any forewarning. We do not know the day nor the hour - whether evening, or at midnight or at cockcrow, or in the morning - but for those who live aware of his promise and pray to be found faithful he will come in power and great glory. And the angels of Bethlehem will join the angel chorus of that great day exclaiming, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. Who was, and who is, and who is to come. Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power!" (Revelation 4:8-11) And perhaps we will join in and exclaim in the words of today's Psalm: "O shepherd of Israel, hearken, from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth. Rouse your power, and come to save us!"

In this Holy Eucharist we celebrate the sacred promise of Jesus to come again. We know he will come again as he has promised because he comes in every celebration of this Holy and Sacred meal. And every time we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the Lord's great work on Calvary until he comes again. (1 Corinthians 11:26)

In this communion we learn what really matters. Today let us make what matters most our priority every day. From this Holy Table may we take the grace we receive and share it in our families and with our friends and neighbors. As we have freely received let us freely give. Here in this Holy moment we are the clay and He is the potter; we are the work of his hands. May it please the Lord to use us for the greater work of his Kingdom - the greater work of mercy and justice and peace - embracing the priorities that matter if we are to meet the Lord when he comes again. Amen.

Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at dennishankins@gmail.com His website is: www.dennishankins.com

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