The most difficult times can produce the greatest spiritual blessings. God truly knows just what we need at every moment!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

First Sunday in Advent – Year B - Nov 27, 2011

After 8 years work on the part of Bishops and experts from the US, Canada, England, Ireland, India, Australia and English speaking African countries, we have a new English translation of the Roman Missal.

When Latin was the language in which the Mass was celebrated in every part of the Catholic world in the Latin rite, unity in faith and worship was not an issue. But since the celebration of Mass in the vernacular was allowed, things seemed to go wrong with the experiment. The Bishops were concerned about the accuracy of the various translations of the Roman Missal.

And so every translation in use over the past 40 years was subjected to a thorough reevaluation to ensure fidelity to the original Latin Text of the Roman Missal.

For all the English-speaking Latin Catholic faithful, the new missal is a challenge that demands our time, our practice and our patience.  We need to move on.

Today we start a new liturgical year. This is the First Sunday of Advent.

            In today's Gospel there is a short little parable. The parable tells us about a householder who had a number of servants.

Once, before he left on a trip abroad, The Master of the household called all of his servants together and gave each of them a job to do.

He urged them all to be responsible saying, 'When I return I want to find you awake.'

The Master especially sin-gled out the doorkeeper for a special warning.

Now, Christ's story ends there with that warning ringing in our ears.

But let’s take that story a little further and let’s concentrate on that same doorkeeper.

Probably the great-est danger facing that doorkeeper was not so much that he might fall asleep on the job, but that he might grow too accustomed to doing the job.

You see in the beginning he’s all excited about the job the Master gave him. In fact, he feels honoured that his Boss has placed so much trust in him.

He loves his new uniform. Whenever he puts it on he feels like he is somebody special.

He is very conscientious about doing a good job and for the longest time that’s exactly what he does – a good job, in fact a very good job.

But time goes by. Opening and closing doors can get very monoto-nous. Pretty soon the novelty of it all wears off. Slowly but surely the dust of habit, of doing the same old job over and over again begins to accumu-late on him and his world.

A deadly routine takes over. He is still responsible, still unfailingly at his post. But now he is merely going through the motions.

The initial love and enthusiasm have evaporated. His heart is no longer in it.

When the Master returns he will no doubt still find him at his post opening and closing the doors like a robot. You see, doing things routinely over and over again without thinking gradually deadens us and in the end it snuffs out all life, all enthusiasm for the task at hand.

What happens in ordinary life also happens in our Christian life too.
We can get into a deadly routine with the result that we are Christians by habit only. We are Catholics in name only.

We are merely going through the motions. Sometimes we live as though we figure we will live forever.

We are taking part in rituals that have lost all freshness and meaning.  Isn’t it true that half the time we probably don’t even hear the Gospel anymore and we certainly can’t remember what the Gospel was once we leave the church, never mind the homily.

It just goes in one ear and out the other. The face of Christ has vanished from our sight.

So what's the solution?

The solution is that as human beings we need to be disturbed from time to time.

We need to be shaken out of our routine.

This is where Advent comes in. Advent issues a great 'wake up' call to us. It provides us with an opportunity to shake off the dust of habit, and to let Christ come alive in our lives once more.

Yes, the Lord IS coming. Yes, He WILL come to each of us at death, and to the world at the end of time.

Yet, somehow that fact doesn’t seem to register with most of us.

The point is that even though we don't know the day or the hour of His com-ing, we live our lives as though He never will come. As if we will be treated differently than others. Yet, we see the end of this life come every day to our acquaintances, to our friends and even to relatives of ours.

Some day it will be our turn.  It’s not that we should live our lives in morbid fear of death – after all Jesus said “Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come follow me”.  

But we do need to realize that there is a judge and we will appear before Him and will have to give an account of how we lived our lives, how we treated our neighbour, what we did with the talents He gave us.

Basically it comes down to this. Did we love God with our whole heart, our whole soul and our whole mind? Did we love our neighbour as ourselves?

That will determine whether or not we are counted among the sheep or among the goats.

Any time is the wrong time for the unfaithful servant. But any time is the right time for the faithful servant.

The faithful servant doesn't fear the Lord's coming; he welcomes it. For the faithful servant the time of the Lord’s coming will be a time of great joy. Are we faithful servants? Are we ready?

We have to be ready. How? By being alive, alert, responsible servants of the Lord and of one another.

Advent is a time of waiting, longing and begging. It is a time of conversion. It is a time for all of us to pray “Maranatha….. Come, Lord Jesus.

The Lord be with you and with your spirit.      Amen.

Deacon Bernie Ouellette

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