Reflections on the Readings
December 1, 2013
First Sunday of Advent - Year A
There's a Better Day Coming!
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36)
A Vision of the Future
The prophet Isaiah gives us an inspiring word. Pointing toward the future he reminds the people of God then and now of a glorious and hopeful future. It is a day in which the knowledge of the Lord is known far and wide. This passage fills the imagination of all who desire peace and justice to flourish. It gives us an invitation to seek something higher than our own self serving egos.
Isaiah thunders with excitement: Come! Climb the mountain of the Lord and see the house of the God of Jacob. Early Christian exegetes saw this passage finding its fulfillment in the Church that Jesus loved and died for in the shedding of his own blood. For from the Church comes the message of divine invitation for all nations; for all tribes and clans; for every color of man to come and receive the powerful word of forgiveness in Christ.
We need this word today. It implores us to imagine a future that is truly a new time. To wait in humble expectation that one day Christ himself will descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God to herald in the day of the Lord. Is this too much to imagine? Is it too good to be true? My friend, if our faith is too small to see this future, let us pray that our faith increases. If our vision of the future is too dim, let us pray for new eyes. If our hope for the world and its existence tomorrow is weak, then let us pray that we will be more hopeful, more fervent in loving our world back to God!
Truly a better day is coming! Every one is called to be instruments of the peace this reading promises. We can begin by no longer fighting with one another in our homes and in our parishes. Let us fulfill the royal law of Christ and love one another. Maybe we can bend a little. Lay down our pride. Even tame our sharp tongue into an instrument of peace. We are brothers and sisters so let us work on being forgiving, and more cheerful, and greet each other with the love of Christ in our eyes.
The Virtue of Christ
Advent is a time to encounter Christ more deeply and personally. We usually get to know someone by being around them. Hanging out with them and doing things together helps in getting to know the other person. If it is someone you really want to know you make special plans and find ways to be with that special someone. And as that works out, you start showing up at her house and meet the family and get more acquainted with everyone and learn what matters to them. Do you think Christ is that someone special whom we should know better? Do you think you could do some special things and plan moments to hang out with him? And then you could also come to his House and meet the family and find out how to be more involved with these Christian folks and the work they do in the world.
The work of being the light of Christ is our work. It is what Christian folks do in the world. It is a world where reveling in the things that satisfy the flesh happen in abundance but do nothing for the soul. We are to reject that by making no opportunity to participate in such things. We are in the world, but we are not of the world. Dressed with the armor of light we shine with the love light of the world to come and invite sinners to come to the Light!
Some may ask why we say so much about the light and love of God. I've met those who prefer more 'hell fire and brimstone' preaching. Self appointed judges are not hard to find and their condemnation is not in short supply. But I'm of the opinion that we can push back the darkness. We can overcome the tyranny of darkness. As great beacons of light and love we can confront the darkness that wants to keep its prey. Let us put on Christ and proclaim to those captives of darkness the promise of a new life and a better day in the name of Jesus!
Vigilant to the End
Noah was a preacher of the good things of God. He gave a gracious warning to his contemporaries of God's desire to start over. Noah lived in a world where things were going wrong. The imagination of people's hearts was only evil continually. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. And God appointed him to invite his family and friends to get on his boat and ride it into a better tomorrow.
Noah was vigilant to the very end. He personally invited everyone not to miss their opportunity. Everyone was told in plenty of time to leave their old ways behind and come to safety in the Ark. But the carousing and careless ways of living continued until the very day Noah entered the Ark.
And then the rains fell and the fountains of the deep broke open and "they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away." Only eight souls believed the promise of a better day and boarded the Ark. We also must be busy like Noah was and invite everyone to come into the safety of the Church. Here is where folks can come and leave behind their old ways. Here is where Christ can be met and his love found and received. Just think what a difference you might make in the life of someone not aware of the bountiful grace and love in Christ and his Church.
We are to be vigilant to the very end; until Jesus comes again. As long as the sun rises each morning we have an opportunity to help someone find Christ and his Church. It is here everyone is welcome to enter the waters of baptism and be forgiven and to put on Christ. In the Church of His Love Christ receives sinners and still eats with them. For all who live in Christ's love a better day has already begun! Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com