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Sunday, first week of Advent

December 2, 2007

Blessed New Year!

With this first Sunday of Advent we step into a new liturgical year, preparing with expectant hope for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (if you haven’t yet read Pope Benedict’s new encyclical on hope, check out http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi_en.html).

This year I want to invite you on a treasure hunt for the greatest treasure of all–King Jesus. There’s a story in which a small boy played a game of “I see the King!”, finding Jesus in the most unlikely places. It’s a good “game” for us to play, as we prepare for His coming. Despite the growing trend to try to exclude Jesus from His own birthday party, He is still everywhere. We just need the insight to recognize Him.

I started “playing this game” several years ago while Christmas shopping, as an antidote to the glitz of commercialism. At first I was looking for obvious things: nativity scenes, His picture on Christmas cards, references to Him in Christmas muzak, etc. Later I realized that He calls us to look deeper too, to find Him in disguise. Wherever we find Him, come, let us adore Him.

Readings:
Isaiah 2:1-5 (all nations shall stream to the Lord’s mountain and learn to live in peace)
Psalm 122:1-9 “I rejoiced when I heard them say: let us go to the house of the Lord”
Romans 13:11-14 (Live honorably, as in daylight)
+ Matthew 24:37-44 (Jesus will return when least expected; always be ready!)

“Further up and further in!” This cry from C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia could well be the theme for Advent. We were not made for depraved darkness, not made to crawl like worms in the mud of materialism. We were made for the brilliant light of Heaven, for holiness, for the heights of God’s holy mountain. We were made to “put on Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14).

God has provided everything we need to rise to the occasion. He not only created us in His own image and likeness, He then rescued us from the sin by which we betrayed Him. Day after day He urges us to stream to His holy mountain that He may instruct us in His ways, that we may walk in His paths, casting off the deeds of darkness to live honorably in His light. He warms the bath of Confession to cleanse and heal us from all evil. He spreads the lavish banquet of His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion to nourish and strengthen us. He lights our way by His self-revelation in Holy Scripture and in the teachings of His Bride, the Church.

At the same time, He also sounds a warning. Like Thanksgiving weekend sales, this is a limited-time offer. If we don’t take advantage of it, it won’t do us any good. We must consistently, persistently answer His call, putting His gifts to use, becoming recognizable as princes and princesses of His Kingdom. It’s the ultimate case of “you snooze, you lose”. While we can point to the date of Jesus’ first coming as a Babe in Bethlehem, no one knows when His second, triumphant coming will be. We must always be ready. “Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Come, ye chosen of the Father. Further up and further in!

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