Isaiah 2:1-5; Ps 122:1-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
Last week we finished our Liturgical year, looking at and praying about the life, death, resurrection, etc. of Christ. We concluded the year with the celebration of Jesus Christ as savior and victorious ruler of our lives. Each year we “relive” the life of Jesus in one year as we look at the various aspects of his life for and among us.
This week we start over again with many different scripture readings and prayers. You might call this fall cleaning. It is not a penitential season as is Lent. We look at the first of the Major Prophets of the Old Testament, Isaiah. He is the major witness of the hope of Israel for a savior from the mess in their lives. They called the new person the Messiah. We know him as Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to earth to saves us from our sins and bring our lives and that of his chosen people into a new direction, the new Kingdom of God.
The Sundays of our church year are mostly remembrances of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, or “little Easters.” Lent is a time of repenting for our sins, and being forgiven because of what Jesus accomplished in his passion and death. Easter is his victory over evil, sin and death. Advent, on the other hand, is a time of preparing for the first coming of the Son of God to earth. He took unto himself a fully human nature except sin and all its consequences. We look to the people and events that the Holy Spirit orchestrated to bring about the conception, birth and early life of Jesus Christ.
Advent is a preparation time of desire, longing and expectancy. There was a certain hunger placed in us at conception for the completeness of our human nature in the life to God. This longing is expressed in three stages or people. First we have Isaiah the prophet, John the Baptist and finally Mary, who conceived the Son of God in her own body.
Isaiah gave us many prophecies of the person and work of this new savior of the Jewish people and all humans. This prophet gave us progressive revelations, which increase our longing for a Redeemer.
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets and the first of the New Testament. He stands at the junction point of these testaments, two thousand years before him and two thousand after to our own day. John pointed out the Messiah as the true Lamb of God when Jesus went to John for baptism in the Jordan River. The first three men who would become close followers of Jesus that day were John, James and Andrew.
Mary, the greatest prophet
Since our salvation is built on a human framework, it is not surprising that God chose to work through a specially gifted woman, Mary. She was given the graces to always say, “yes,” to what God asked of her. She is the closest human to assist God in bringing about his Kingdom on earth. Mary carried and nurtured God in her womb for nine months. She also cared for him as he grew into adulthood. Even today Mary is God’s greatest example and prophet helping us follow Jesus.
What has become more and more clear to me in being a priest of Jesus Christ and celebrating Mass most of 45 years, is that Jesus is born in the hands of his priests at every Mass. Jesus comes to earth on the altar and continues of multiply bread and wine to feed us. He is our best food. And he chooses to live us our body since our baptism unless we throw him out through serious sin. Jesus comes back if we repent and receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. What a privilege and miracle. It is Christ’s mass. It is Christmas and Jesus comes to offer us more of his gifts.
Let us go more often to our parish churches rejoicing to receive our precious Lord. We offer him ourselves and not gold, frankincense or myrrh. Let us praise and thank him as his joy increases in us. Remember St Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 2:9: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Have a joyfully longing week,
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2016 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)