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Saturday, 26 November 2016

Sunday, November 27, 2016 - First Sunday in Advent - “Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”

To read the texts click on the texts: Isaiah 2:1-5; Rom. 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

In this oracle of salvation Isaiah speaks of the elevation or exaltation of Zion, the mountain of the Temple of the Lord. This elevation will result in the establishment of peace and justice among all nations. The people will make a pilgrimage to Zion to learn the Lord’s ways and walk in his paths. They will go to God’s holy mountain to learn from him. This instruction will result in the instruments of war being turned into farming tools. Peace will reign and so there will be no need to train for war.

In this part of his letter to the Romans, Paul exhorts his readers because of the urgency of the times to wake up and live in the light rather than darkness. This is done by giving up things done under the cover of the dark and daring to appear in the light. Christians must express through their words and actions the very presence of Christ.

The text from Matthew is part of his Eschatological Discourse (24-25). To the question “When will Christ return?” Matthew’s answer is “No one knows” (24:36). As in the time of Noah life went on as usual with no sign that judgement was going to come, so will it be at the Parousia (literally “presence” but taken to mean the second coming of Christ). However, this lack of knowledge about the exactness of the hour instead of becoming a cause for concern must be the motivating factor to be ready at all times. In the metaphor of the thief who breaks and enters the house, the point being made is that it is the one who knows that the exact hour is unknown will be the one who will remain vigilant and awake.

Many of us live in the future rather than in the present. We want to know what will happen tomorrow and in the process do not live fully today. This obsession with the future is because basically we are frightened. We are frightened of what the future holds for us, we are frightened of whether we will be able to cope with what the future brings and we are frightened of whether the future will be better than or worse than our present. The Gospel text of today is calling for exactly the opposite of this way of living. It is calling for a total living in the present and doing what we have to do in the now, with no useless worry about what the morrow will bring. This is what it means to be ready at all times. A story is told of St. John Berchmans {a young Jesuit who died when he was  22 years old} who when  asked what he would do if he was told that he was going to be called by the Lord at the moment when he was playing football is said to have replied, “I will continue playing football.” The Latin phrase “Age quod agis” “Do what you are doing” sums up his attitude and the attitude expected of each of us who profess to be followers of Christ.

However, we will only be able to have such a kind of confidence to continue doing what we are doing,  if we give up the negative things that we might be doing and the negative attitudes that we might carry and substitute them instead with everything that enhances, builds up  and is positive. Being good and doing good are not be looked upon as a burden but something that comes naturally to the Christian who has experienced the move from darkness to light and from fear to love through what Christ has done through his life, mission, death and resurrection. We must show through this kind of positive and fearless living that we are indeed children of the light and have as inspiration the person and message of Christ.
If we dare to live in this manner then the prophecy of Isaiah which was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus 2000 years ago will also become a reality once again today. We will become that mountain of the Temple of the Lord to which everyone will look and learn the Lord’s ways. They will learn that to live in the future is futile, that to be obsessed with what is not yet is to fail to appreciate fully the present moment. They will realize that it is better to be positive than negative, to enhance and build up rather than pull down and destroy, to live fully and completely rather than die without ever having lived.


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