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

Sunday, November 29, 2009

1 Sunday of Advent

Jeremiah 33:14-16;

1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2;

Luke 21:25-28,34-36

Why God does need our hands?

A Master and his disciple were walking through the deserts of Arabia. The Master used each moment of the journey to teach his disciple about faith. “Entrust your things to God, because He never abandons His children” – the master repeated many times during the day.

When they camped down at night, the Master asked the disciple to tie the horses to a nearby rock. The disciple went over to the rock, but then remembered what he had learned that afternoon. The Master must be testing me. The truth is that I should entrust the horses to God." And he let the horses loose.

In the morning he discovered that the animals had run off. Indignant, he sought out the Master.

You know nothing about God! Yesterday I learned that I should trust blindly in Providence, so I gave the horses to Him to guard, and the animals have disappeared!

God wanted to look after the horses,” answered the Master. But at that moment he needed your hands to tie them up and you did not lend them to Him.

Last week we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King and the last Sunday of the outgoing Church year. Today is the First Sunday in Advent and the beginning of a new Church year. Why are these four weeks before Christmas called "Advent"? The term comes from a Latin word ad-veniat - meaning 'coming or arrival'. We immediately think it refers to the coming of Jesus at Christmastime and that is correct. But it is not the whole story. In fact, we can speak of three comings of the Lord and all are referred to in the Scripture readings today.

Three 'comings'

The First Reading from the prophet Jeremiah refers prophetically to the coming of Jesus, our King and Saviour: "I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David who shall practice honesty and integrity in the land." That is the coming of the Child Jesus in Bethlehem, which we anticipate and prepare for in these four weeks. That is what we may call the First Coming.

The Gospel speaks in ominous terms of the end of the world and what we refer to as the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of time. "And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."

However, there is still a third coming which forms an important and indispensable link between the First and Second Comings. That is what is spoken about in the Second Reading. It is the welcoming of Jesus into our lives in the "here and now" of our lives. This is something which takes place every day. By it we both acknowledge the First Coming of Jesus in Bethlehem and prepare for the Second Coming at an unknown future date.

For this reason we have to stay alert and be watchful because He is constantly coming even in the most invisible ways. This is the deepest sense of Advent, the time of waiting for God.

Maybe you know the Samuel Beckett's famous play “Waiting for Godot”.

Waiting for Godot follows two days in the lives of a pair of men who divert themselves while they wait expectantly and unsuccessfully for someone named Godot to arrive. They claim him as an acquaintance but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognise him were they to see him. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide — anything "to hold the terrible silence at bay"

In his play, Beckett writes about two men living on a huge mountain of garbage. They are busy, but in reality they are doing nothing. Many people visit them regularly. They try to invite them to the restaurants or to a cinema, or to their houses but they constantly and stubbornly refuse to do anything else, explaining that they are waiting for the mysterious Mister Godot. They can do nothing else because Mister Godot could come at anytime and so they have to be ready. We –as Catholics- we are similar to these men, especially during the time of Advent; we are waiting maybe not for Mister Godot but for God until He comes …

I have a time for Santa and for shopping, for decorating my house and Christmas tree, for cleaning, cooking, roasting, boiling, frying. I have a time for visiting and walking, for exercising and talking, for playing hokey and skiing. I have time for so many secondary and useless things in my life … Do I have time for God? Am I aware of the warning Jesus is giving in today's Gospel: "Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap." (Lk 21:34)

The Advent is the time when Jesus repeats: ad venio – "I am coming". Do I expect Him and do I wait for Him?

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