A Shepherd's Message - Dec. 9, 2014

December 9, 2014

The season of Advent has begun in this Year of our Lord, 2014-2015. We begin our Readings from the Gospel of St. Mark which accompanies us for many Sundays in the coming year. The written text of St. Mark is brief and blunt. Jesus’ words are recorded with brevity and urgency. On First Advent we heard: “What I say to you I say to all: Watch!”

Our culture likes to lull us into the sleep of entertainment, into a faith that is drowsy. For disciples, however, it is now the time to wake from sleep. The Lord Jesus comes now and will come again in glory even as he came once in the flesh and walked the roads of Galilee and Jerusalem.

Advent prepares us for these varieties of comings of the Lord. Beyond Mark’s Gospel passages for this season, the Scriptures of Advent are rich in challenges from Isaiah about turning away from idols to the Lord, about turning to our neighbors in charity, about turning towards our culture and working for social justice, most especially for the poor and the widow and the orphan, the refugee and the immigrant, the unborn, the homeless in our midst, the elderly, the young who have given up on life.

There are so many reasons for a disciple to be awake and not lose heart but rather support the hope that comes from Jesus Christ by action on behalf of his little ones, wherever they may be. The strong words of John the Baptist about preparing a way for the Lord are a cry of warning and an invitation to decisions about repentance, about a deeper spirit of prayer, about sacramental reconciliation that helps us work for reconciliation in our families and in the Church.

The Season of Advent is also about joy, the joy of the Gospel. The real figure of joy in Advent is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her Yes to the Angel Gabriel, her youthful enthusiasm as she rushes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, her remarkable “Magnificat” that sings: ”My soul magnifies the Lord,” and “He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent empty away,” all these point to a reality of Jesus Christ, the Word Made Flesh, that can only mean joy to the world!

Advent is urgent. Advent is conversion. Advent is joy. Let us hasten to make Advent spectacular. Let us rush to wait in joy like the shoppers wait outside for the stores to open on Black Friday. They rush for perishable gifts but we for an imperishable treasure, to see, know and love Christ who is coming!

A Blessed Advent to all priests, religious (it’s your special year!), deacons and faithful of the Archdiocese.

P.S. - Remember Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) this Advent. †