A reading of the holy Gospel according to Matthew 24:37-44
Jesus said to his disciples: "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
REFLECTION: "So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."
Christmas season is upon us. Christmas carols are in the air 24/7, we are invited to parties, and the familiar smells of cookies and fruitcakes permeate the air. With excitement children circle all the toys they want in the wish catalogs, and mom hangs the wreath and stockings, places the nutcrackers on shelves, and decorates the Christmas tree with many memories of children's homemade ornaments. Sometimes all this preparation brings great angst especially if family is coming to visit and many presents need to be purchased. Unfortunately we can overspend and the credit cards are maxed out.
Christmas, for many, ends after the big meal with family and friends and the last present is opened. The tree is tossed and all the decorations are put away.
Today is the first day of Advent and the start of a new Liturgical Year. However, the Gospel is not filled with the traditional Christmas cheer. "So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." It is filled with Hope.
Advent is a time of journey. We know the route and we know who the travellers are. The angel Gabriel visits Mary, Zachariah is unable to speak after doubting, Mary visits Elizabeth and John the Baptist leaps in her womb, the Magi are en route, and the shepherds will be visited by the singing angels. All activity culminates with the Birth of Jesus Chirst, God made man. And to our redemption.
In the first week of Advent we concentrate on Hope. The lighting of the purple candle (or the Prophecy Candle) is a symbol of Hope for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is a time of prayer, sacrifice and penance. This week journey with Mary and place yourself in her care. Walk with her to Elizabeth's. Watch how she has complete trust in God and how joyful she is. Imitate her lowliness and her work ethic. Or take a silent retreat with Zachariah; listen rather than talk, pray with abandonment, and be not anxious. Say few words to allow God's words to permeate your brain.
Inspite of sadness, failure, grief, trials and tribulations, when God calls we pray and hope that our hearts will be open to Him this Christmas.