DS: Today is the First Sunday of Advent. It is a new year in our Liturgy. Year B, Cycle II has ended, we now begin with Year C, Cycle I, and what a way to begin...
|Fra Angelico's "Last Judgment"|
The Gospel reading of today's Mass hits us with the message that this world will come to an end, but we who follow Christ, must be prepared for His coming. When the time comes the rest of the world will tremble in fear, but we must "hold our heads high at our deliverance." Just like the readings of yesterday, where St. John beheld a vision of Paradise, today's Gospel reminds of the importance of being in a state of grace at the time of Christ's coming. St. John's vision is no fairy tale. He saw a place that had neither night nor tribulation and all who have served God and believed in Him on earth now praise Him forever in celestial bliss. "These words," the angel explained to St. John, "are trustworthy and true...":
|Luke 21: 25 - 28, 34 - 36|
|25||"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,|
|26||men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.|
|27||And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.|
|28||Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."|
|34||"But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare;|
|35||for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.|
|36||But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man."|
At Mass this evening, Fr. touched on the topic of "end of the world" hysteria that grips the world from time to time. The upcoming Dec. 21, 2012 prediction by the Mayans is one example. Fr. said that he finds it a mystery why people will easily believe such things, and yet, they find it difficult to heed the Word of God and believe in Him. Truth is, we do not know the day nor the hour, and Jesus himself said only His Father in heaven knows. What Fr. emphasized is that we must prepare our selves to be ready for anything, for the end may come to any one of us at any hour of any day we least expect it.
Advent is such a time of preparation. The Church takes these four weeks before Christmas to prepare for the coming of the Lord in the manger at Bethlehem. (But in reality, we are preparing ourselves for when the Lord comes again.) Like Lent, some Catholics will decide to offer some sort of sacrifice, or, take up a charitable activity. Fr. suggested the latter. This preparation is an activity that Catholics seem to repeat at various times of the Liturgical calendar. In a sense, it's "practice made perfect." Once we begin to take that journey to get closer to God, there is no stopping us. Preparation becomes an every day mission, rather than something we do just during certain seasons of the year.
VEE: I like Michelangelo's "Last Judgement" in the Sistine chapel better, although I do suspect that at the general judgement at the end of time there will be a similar amount of shushing going on! In the center of it is Jesus as a strong just judge, condemning the evildoers with such intensity that Mary is hiding her face. Jesus is no frail pale wisp of a man there. But we have started Advent though, where we prepare for Christ the newborn king, the Babe to whom we can go and adore and love and whom loves us. Let us bend our knees before Him now in the manger and not wait until the end trembling at His justice. I read in a Magnificat once a quote that went something like "God became what He loves most, a child so that we dont have to fear Him we can only love Him."