Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
First Sunday in Advent, Year B
November 30, 2014
Is 63:16-17.19;64:2-7, Ps 80, 1 Cor 3-9, Mk 13:33-37
To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below:
The following text guided today’s homily:
The Convergence of Three Beginnings
Today we begin three important things all at once.
First, we begin the Season of Advent, in which we stoke up our desire for God and prepare ourselves to go to meet Christ in history, in mystery and in majesty: in history through his incarnation and birth in Bethlehem two millennia ago, lest we ever take for granted what this means; in mystery, the Greek word for “sacrament,” in which we go out to meet Jesus in the ways he comes to meet us every day in prayer, in the Eucharist, in Confession, and; in others; and in majesty, on the clouds of heaven at the end of our life or at the end of time, whichever comes first. In all three areas, we turn to God and say, in the words of today’s Responsorial Psalm, “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved!” In all three ways, to quote St. Paul from today’s epistle, we “wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” so that we might be found “irreproachable” at his arrival. In all three advents, we seek to heed Christ’s command from the Gospel to “Be watchful! Be alert!,” so that when the Lord comes we will not be found “sleeping,” but vigilant, ready to embrace him and receive all that he has come in history, mystery and majesty to give us. The symbol of Advent is the lit candle — a candle that multiples over the course of this liturgical season in the Advent wreath — that shows that we’re waiting like the wise virgins for the coming of the Bridegroom so that we may go out to meet him when he comes (Mt 25:1-13).
The second thing we mark today is a new liturgical year. The first Sunday of Advent is always New Year’s Day in the Church in which we begin to retrace anew all of the events of salvation history beginning with the long wait of the Jews for the Messiah. We go back to the beginning, to the yearnings of the Jews expressed by the Prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading, in which we say, “Return for the sake of your servants! … Rend the heavens and come down!” And on this spiritual New Year’s Day — a day that should be far more significant to us than the civil New Year’s Day in just over a month — we seek to make resolutions. In this weekend’s bulletin, I’ve written an article on various New Year’s resolutions I ask you prayerfully to consider. I’m asking you to make one resolution with regard to your prayer and worship, another with regard to learning your faith better, another concerning your Christian charity, a fourth related to your building community, and a fifth with respect to spreading our Christian joy to the world. These are all resolutions that should begin right away, with regard to the way we live out the Advent season so that we can get this new year off to the best possible start spiritually. The great 20th century British writer GK Chesterton once said, “The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions.” Now’s the time we’re called to respond to God’s help to make resolutions to improve our spiritual life, because if we’re not making them now, we’re probably never going to be making them.
The third new thing we inaugurate today is the Year for Consecrated Life, which Pope Francis has established, which will extend for 14 months, until the Feast of the Presentation, February 2, 2016 (when the Church annually marks the World Day of Consecrated Life). Pope Francis announced that we would have a special year dedicated to the consecrated life last November 27 in a meeting with religious superiors in Rome precisely so that the whole Church can focus on the great gift God has given us in all the various forms of consecrated life, like, for example, contemplative monks and cloistered nuns, religious brothers and sisters in education, health care and charity, members of secular institutes living out their consecration in the midst of the world, members of societies of apostolic life, missionaries spreading the faith, consecrated virgins, hermits, consecrated widows and widowers and so many new expressions by which our consecrated brothers and sisters make the life, virtues and values of Jesus more visible, pointing us from the superficial to the sacred and from the ephemeral to the eternal. It would be tempting for the vast majority of Catholics who are not in consecrated life to ignore the year, thinking that it doesn’t immediately effect them, but Pope Francis, in a letter he released yesterday, urged laity “to live this Year for Consecrated Life as a grace” because it “concerns not only consecrated persons, but the entire Church.” He urged the “whole Christian people to be increasingly aware of the gift that is the presence of our many consecrated men and women” and to “draw close to these men and women, to rejoice with them, to share their difficulties and to assist them, to whatever degree possible, in their ministries and works, for the latter are, in the end, those of the entire Church.” St. John Paul II wrote in a beautiful exhortation on the Consecrated Life (Vita Consecrata) back in 1996, “The consecrated life is not something isolated and marginal, but a reality that affects the whole Church. … The consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission, since it manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling and the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse.”
And so what I’d like to do today is in a sense to blend all three of these new realities we begin today — the Season of Advent, our new liturgical year, and the Year for Consecrated Life — by looking at Seven Advent Resolutions every disciple can make based on the fundamental characteristics and lessons of the consecrated life. We’ll have a chance to ponder many of these lessons from consecrated life in greater depth later during the Year, but it’s important today that we begin to live this Year prayerfully and well and allow it to influence every thing we celebrate in this new “year of the Lord.”
The first lesson is about the reality of consecration.
What does it mean to be consecrated? It means to be given to God. It means we’ve transferred “ownership,” “control,” the “title” of each of us to God and that we fully belong to him. Each of us was consecrated to God on the day of our baptism, but many of us haven’t really lived that reality. Those in consecrated life make a special dedication of themselves to God within their baptismal consecration. They explicitly give their entire life over to God and seek to live in the manner of the Gospel in such a way that their self-giving to God can become a model for every believer. Their life is a summons to us to make intentional our own self-giving to the Lord no matter what our state of life.
How can we live out this baptismal consecration better during Advent and this new liturgical year? I would suggest that we make the firm resolution to give ourselves more than things to God and others. We often spend so such time in malls buying stuff for others. Let’s consecrate ourselves to God as our Christmas gift to him and consecrate ourselves to others as our gift to them for their salvation.
The second lesson is about community life
In the expression “consecrated,” there’s both the root “sacer” which means “cut off” or “especially dedicated” — that’s where we get the word “sacred” — but there’s also the prefix “con” which means “with.” We’re cut off in consecrated life from the profane, from all things not worthy of God, in order to be “with” God and “with” others. While there are hermits and consecrated virgins who live basically on their own, the vast majority of consecrated men and women live out their life in community.
The second resolution we can make this year is to live our faith more conscientiously together with others, with those in our families, with those in our parish, to make the time to get to know each other better, to give ourselves to each other and receive others’ gift of self to us.
One of the great struggles that can happen today when young people are discerning vocations to the consecrated or religious life is that they want to come in and give themselves to a life of prayer, but they don’t really give themselves to each other. Many of those in consecrated life prioritize prayer and their apostolic works but community life takes a back seat. That’s one of the things that hopefully can be remedied this year wherever such problems exist. But this is a lesson all of us need to learn Just like consecrated persons are called to live a family life together in community, so are all of us, in our own families of origin, and especially in our parishes, need to learn how to live better in community. Even if we’re worshipping at the same time, we often don’t join our hearts and soul; we don’t allow God to make us “one body, one spirit in Christ,” because frequently don’t really want the commitment that comes in community life, we don’t really want to become our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
Advent is a time, however, in which we ponder that Christ came to save us not individually but as a people. He came to form a Church. He came to call us to communion with God and with each other. We’re supposed to become more and more people of communion. We see the model of this in the early Church. They prayed together, went to the Temple together, ate together and had all things in common. With regard to Christ’s second coming, they waited together and strengthened each other to persevere in their waiting by the contagious expectations of each other. We need to be strengthened in the same way.
Pope Francis wrote in his letter yesterday that consecrated men and women are called to be “experts in communion”, “witnesses and architects of the ‘plan for unity’ which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design.’ In a polarized society, where different cultures experience difficulty in living alongside one another, where the powerless encounter oppression, where inequality abounds, [consecrated men and women] are called to offer a concrete model of community which, by acknowledging the dignity of each person and sharing our respective gifts, makes it possible to live as brothers and sisters. So,” he concluded, “be men and women of communion!” We’re all called as Catholics to be men and women of communion, to be experts in communion. But Pope Francis didn’t want to leave it for consecrated communities or for the rest of us at the level of generalities. He described what can sabotage communion and asked all of us to make a commitment not to engage in such destructive behavior: “I would ask you to think about my frequent comments about criticism, gossip, envy, jealousy, hostility as ways of acting which have no place in our houses.” Some of the people in our parish have doctoral degrees in gossip, constantly speaking of others in a negative way. We’ll never have communion that way. One of the important resolutions the Pope wants each of us to make is to refuse to gossip, to refuse to be possessed by envy, since these things that can harm any community. Instead we can learn how to say praise behind each other’s backs. This is the second thing we can learn from consecrated life that can help us to live out this new liturgical year well.
The third lesson is Prayer
Consecrated men and women are meant to be distinguished above all by the art, quality and quantity of their prayer. Just as God calls them to be experts in communion, so they’re called to be experts in prayer. St. John Paul II wrote in 1996: “The call to holiness is accepted and can be cultivated only in the silence of adoration before the infinite transcendence of God: We must confess that we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is adored. … All believers … need to learn a silence that allows the Other to speak when and how he wishes, and allows us to understand his words. In practice this involves great fidelity to liturgical and personal prayer, to periods devoted to mental prayer and contemplation, to Eucharistic adoration, to monthly retreats and to spiritual exercises.”
All of us can learn from those in contemplative life how to prioritize prayer. The most important resolution any of us needs to make if we want to make this year a true year of the Lord is with regard to prayer, to silence, to adoration, so that our life may be distinguished above all by prayer.
The fourth lesson is charity
Pope Francis wrote in his letter yesterday, “Like Jesus, who compassionately spoke his gracious word, healed the sick, gave bread to the hungry and offered his own life in sacrifice, so [the] founders and foundresses [of various forms of consecrated life] sought in different ways to be the service of all those to whom the Spirit sent them. They did so by their prayers of intercession, their preaching of the Gospel, their works of catechesis, education, their service to the poor and the infirm… The creativity of charity is boundless; it is able to find countless new ways of bringing the newness of the Gospel to every culture and every corner of society.”
Last year, in the same get together with religious superiors in which Pope Francis announced the Year for Consecrated Life, he said that the consecrated are called to “wake up the world” with their charity. They’re supposed to sound an alarm clock with regard to the needs that are out there and respond to it like firemen to a fire alarm. Pope Francis said, “The witness that can really attract is that associated with attitudes that are uncommon: generosity, detachment, sacrifice, self-forgetfulness in order to care for others. This is the witness, the ‘martyrdom’ of religious life. It ‘sounds an alarm’ for people. Religious [are] witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world.”
The first people that are meant to be awakened by the alarm of the charity of the consecrated men and women, by their different way of acting and living is meant to be us within the Church. Just as their charity built Catholics hospitals, schools, food pantries and radiated through mission work, the priesthood, counseling and so many other areas, so each of us is called to a similar creativity and perfection in charity according to our conditions in life. Advent is a time in which so many of us begin to ponder charity toward others, in which we learn to pay it forward, in which we seek to become secret Santas for many. Led by the consecrated whose whole life pays Christ’s gift forward, we’re called to make that charity more than a season series of actions.
The fifth lesson is with regard to contagious joy
Since his election, Pope Francis has been focused on joy. His apostolic exhortation released just over a year ago was entitled “The Joy of the Gospel,” and sought to help the whole Church to live and proclaim better the “Good News,” because he said often we live the faith as if it were “bad news,” as if we were constantly returning from a funeral, as if every day were Good Friday. And he says that one way we’re supposed to see the Good News and experience the joy of the faith is in consecrated men and women. He wrote yesterday, “The old saying will always be true: ‘Where there are religious, there is joy.’ We are called to know and show that God is able to fill our hearts to the brim with happiness; that we need not seek our happiness elsewhere; that the authentic fraternity found in our communities increases our joy; and that our total self-giving in service to the Church, to families and young people, to the elderly and the poor, brings us life-long personal fulfillment.”
The whole Advent season is a preparation, I like to say, for the Christmas Midnight Mass when the whole Church throughout the world is supposed to burst out with the hymn “Joy to the World!,” not just with choirs and organs but with men and women, boys and girls. Consecrated men and women show us the source of joy in the love of God and love of others. It’s an example we ought all to seek to imitate.
The sixth lesson is about becoming eschatological signs.
Consecrated men and women by their life choice for the kingdom of God point us all to heaven. They help us all to live in anticipation of Christ’s second coming, which is a particularly Lenten consideration. St. John Paul II wrote in 1996: “It is particularly opportune to draw attention … to the eschatological nature of the consecrated life. ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Mt 6:21). The unique treasure of the Kingdom gives rise to desire, anticipation, commitment and witness. In the early Church, the expectation of the Lord’s coming was lived in a particularly intense way. With the passing of the centuries, the Church has not ceased to foster this attitude of hope: she has continued to invite the faithful to look to the salvation which is waiting to be revealed, ‘for the form of this world is passing away’ (1 Cor 7:31; cf. 1 Pet 1:3-6).t is in this perspective that we can understand more clearly the role of consecrated life as an eschatological sign. In fact it has constantly been taught that the consecrated life is a foreshadowing of the future Kingdom. … Immersed in the things of the Lord, the consecrated person remembers that ‘here we have no lasting city’ (Heb 13:14), for ‘our commonwealth is in heaven’ (Phil 3:20). The one thing necessary is to seek God’s ‘Kingdom and his righteousness’ (Mt 6:33), with unceasing prayer for the Lord’s coming.” They help us all to long for heaven.
I think a beautiful illustration of this happened yesterday with the death of Jesuit Father T.J. Martinez, the President of Cristo Rey High School in Houston, died. He was close to Jesuit author Fr. James Martin, the “chaplain” to the “Colbert Report,” who is a Facebook friend of mine. Earlier today, Fr. Martin shared some beautiful reflections on his friendship with Fr. Martinez, who suffered for several years with stomach cancer. Fr. Martin asked him whether he was afraid to die. Fr. Martinez replied, “Well, Jim, I’m a Jesuit, right? And Jesuits are always given a mission. So if my mission from Jesus right now is to be sick, then I accept it. And if my mission is to die, then I accept that mission, too.” In his last communication, Fr. Martinez said, “The last six years of my life have been my best assignment ever,” he said. “But my next one will be even better.” That’s authentic consecrated life. That’s what it means to be an eschatological sign.
All of us are supposed to be in our own lives not those anchoring people to the here and now, to the things of this world, but those who have thrown their anchors beyond the clouds. The consecrated wake us up. They show us how to remain “vigilant and alert,” ready to embrace Christ at every moment and in every moment. This Advent is a time for us to resolve to be more and more like them so that we can become signposts for the world pointing toward the stuff that is eternal.
The seventh and final lesson is perhaps the most important: it’s to live by the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience are embraced by vow or promise by those in consecrated life, but to some degree they’re supposed to be part of every Christian’s following of the Lord because they were part of Christ’s own life who never ceases to call us to follow him. St. John Paul II wrote in 1996, “By professing the evangelical counsels, consecrated persons not only make Christ the whole meaning of their lives but strive to reproduce in themselves, as far as possible, that form of life which he, as the Son of God, accepted in entering this world,” imitating through chastity Christ’s own pure love of the Father and others, through poverty Christ’s own self-emptying to proclaim and obtain the imperishable treasure of the kingdom, and through obedience Christ’s own delight in doing the Father’s will in all things. These prophetic choices constitute a compelling response, respectively, to the hedonism, materialism and autonomous individualism of the modern age that undermine the life of faith and life with others. Through living the evangelical counsels with joy, consecrated men and women, on the other hand, become an abiding reenactment of Christ’s own choices for the kingdom, a powerful affirmation of the primacy of God and eternal life, and a rich manifestation of the path to rediscover the values of fraternal communion that reigned in the apostolic Church.
First, during this year we can resolve to imitate consecrated men and women in their sharing of Christ’s spiritual poverty so that we may make God our true treasure and become rich in his riches.
St. John Paul II wrote in 1996 about the addiction caused by a materialism that “craves possessions, heedless of the needs and sufferings of the weakest, and lacking any concern for the balance of natural resources.” We don’t own our possessions any more, but they own us. We become obsessed with mammon, or to use Pope Francis’ oft-repeated remarks, we “worship the ancient golden calf” and engage in the “ferocious idolatry of money.” To prove just how addicted our culture is to mammon, we can ponder how full this Church would be today if someone were here giving out a million dollars to everyone who showed. It would be standing room only, whereas what we’re giving out here is God. We see this same addiction in the way people approach Christmas, seeking to show they love each other fundamentally through material possessions. Without question God approves of our generosity to others, but not that we would fundamentally seek to show our generosity through material things rather than by giving ourselves.
We know that Jesus came to cure us of this addiction to the things of this world. He was born in a borrow cave, placed in an ancient animal dish for a crib, was redeemed by two turtle doves because Joseph and Mary couldn’t afford a lamb, didn’t have a place to lay his head during public ministry, and was buried in someone else’s grave. But he was at the same time both the happiest man who ever lived and the man richest in what matters most. Consecrated men and women show us through their sharing Christ’s poverty the antidote to the addiction to stuff. .
One practical resolution we should make is with regard to the way we prepare for Christmas, to resolve to give something other than materialistic gifts, but rather the gift of God. Some people really need material help and it’s totally fine for us to give it. If a homeless man, for example, has no winter coat, then it is absolutely beautiful we give him one; if someone doesn’t have shoes, it’s great for us to give them some of our own shoes or buy the person a new pair. But if the girl already has 25 dresses, do we really focus on a 26th? If a boy already has rooms full of toys and gadgets, do we indulge his consumerism? In we do, we may actually be hurting someone if we give materially in this way. We all know that it’s wrong to give alcohol to an alcoholic and money or anything that can be converted into money to someone who is addicted to drugs. But all of us readily give things to people who are addicted to things. And we need to learn from those who are in consecrated life that there is something far more important and valuable we can and ought to give. I’ve always really treasured the gifts I get from those men and women living by the vow of poverty. Rather than a gift-certificate or some material items, they make a hand-made card, they make a novena of prayers for me, they include some artwork they’ve made for me, they write words of encourage for me. Those are the gifts that always move me most of all. They’re the ones I really treasure. I’d encourage you to live this Advent in a spirit of poverty so that you can enrich others with the riches you’ve received from Christ, because giving people other things may just be indulging their materialistic addiction and making it harder for them to grasp the reason for the season.
Second, during this Year we can resolve to imitate consecrated men and women in their entering into Christ’s obedience to the Father so that we may learn with them how really to listen to the Lord and follow him fully.
St. John Paul II wrote about the challenge that comes “from those notions of freedom that separate this fundamental human good from its essential relationship to the truth and to moral norms.” People are addicted to playing God, to being in charge, to calling the shots. So many live with a radical autonomy or individualism. If we don’t like something that God teaches us, we want to tell him, with a closed fist, that he’s wrong.
The remedy to this addiction in the consecrated life is by entering into Christ’s obedience as the consecrated do. “In an especially vigorous way,” St. John Paul II wrote, “this obedience re-proposes the obedience of Christ to the Father and, taking this mystery as its point of departure, testifies that there is no contradiction between obedience and freedom. Indeed, the Son’s attitude discloses the mystery of human freedom as the path of obedience to the Father’s will, and the mystery of obedience as the path to the gradual conquest of true freedom. It is precisely this mystery that consecrated persons wish to acknowledge by this particular vow. By obedience they intend to show their awareness of being children of the Father, as a result of which they wish to take the Father’s will as their daily bread (cf. Jn 4:34), as their rock, their joy, their shield and their fortress (cf. Ps 18:2). Thus they show that they are growing in the full truth about themselves, remaining in touch with the source of their existence and therefore offering this most consoling message: “The lovers of your law have great peace; they never stumble” (Ps 118:165).
Obedience comes from the Latin word ob-audire, which means to listen intensively. Advent is a time when we’re called to listen to God with greater concentration. Mary’s response in that first Advent was “Let it be done to me according to your Word!” St. Joseph’s was to obey the angel and take Mary as his wife, then to flee to Egypt, and then to come back.
It would be beneficial for us to make resolutions with regard to obedience for us to live this new liturgical year well. For kids, living out is somewhat straightforward. Imagine if you were to say to your parents that throughout this liturgical year, you are intent on obeying them promptly and lovingly — what a difference that would make in your life, in your parents’ lives, in the tenor of the home. Imagine what a difference it would make in a Catholic parish if all of us made a much greater commitment to listen to the voice of God in prayer, in Sacred Scripture, in the teachings of Pope Francis, Bishop da Cunha and all those who pass on to us the word of God.
The Year for Consecrated Life is a call for all of us to tune our whole lives to God’s voice and freely to follow what God commands.
Third, during this Year we ought to resolve to imitate consecrated men and women in their living out Christ’s chastity, in order to learn how to love as Christ loves.
St. John Paul II wrote that there is so much selfishness in the world because we’re addicted to pleasure, especially to sexual pleasure. He described today’s “hedonistic culture that separates sexuality from all objective moral norms, often treating it as a mere diversion and a consumer good and, with the complicity of the means of social communication, justifying a kind of idolatry of the sexual instinct. The consequences of this are before everyone’s eyes: transgressions of every kind, with resulting psychic and moral suffering on the part of individuals and families.”
We know well what he’s talking about. Our love has been corrupted. Christ told us what real love is on Holy Thursday and acted on it the following day when he said, “No one has any greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” and called us to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12-13). We’re made in the image and likeness of God who is love, but in order to grow in that likeness, we need to love like God, and the devil isn’t stupid. He knows that to desecrate the image of God we are, the easiest way is to corrupt our love through sin. He corrupted the love of Adam and Eve in the beginning. He’s sought to corrupt love, sex, marriage and family ever since. Many people now believe that love is just a feeling, sometimes even a lustful feeling; rather than a sacrifice of oneself for the other’s true good, it becomes a sacrifice of another for one’s own gratification. Many of us have come to believe that sex is just a contact sport designed for the pleasure of the participants, not something that is supposed to be the joyful expression of a total commitment of life, of a one-flesh union ordained and brought about by God. We believe that marriage no longer is supposed to be holy, that it no longer has any purpose given to it by God, but is just a public sanction of the feelings of adults, even adults of the same sex. And family is no longer a school of love but just an arrangement in which fathers can forsake their responsibility for their pleasure, in which kids can forsake their responsibility as a rite of passage, and in which sometimes even mothers can use families for their own psychological or financial needs.
That’s why the word so much needs the example of the chaste love of those in consecrated life, which shows that God can be loved above all other loves, that God is more important than sexual pleasure, and that one can live happily without giving into the sexual appetites. Since only the pure of heart can see God (Mt 5:8), chastity is essential for us to be able to see God in this world and forever (1 Thes 4:3-4). St. John Paul II wrote that chastity is a “witness to the power of God’s love manifested in the weakness of the human condition. The consecrated person attests that what many have believed impossible becomes, with the Lord’s grace, possible and truly liberating. Yes, in Christ it is possible to love God with all one’s heart, putting him above every other love, and thus to love every creature with the freedom of God! This testimony is more necessary than ever today, precisely because it is so little understood by our world. It is offered to everyone — young people, engaged couples, husbands and wives and Christian families — in order to show that the power of God’s love can accomplish great things precisely within the context of human love. … The consecrated life must present to today’s world examples of chastity lived by men and women who show balance, self-mastery, an enterprising spirit, and psychological and affective maturity. Thanks to this witness, human love is offered a stable point of reference: the pure love which consecrated persons draw from the contemplation of Trinitarian love, revealed to us in Christ. Precisely because they are immersed in this mystery, consecrated persons feel themselves capable of a radical and universal love, which gives them the strength for the self-mastery and discipline necessary in order not to fall under the domination of the senses and instincts. Consecrated chastity thus appears as a joyful and liberating experience. Enlightened by faith in the Risen Lord and by the prospect of the new heavens and the new earth (cf. Rev 21:1), it offers a priceless incentive in the task of educating to that chastity which corresponds to other states of life as well.”
This new liturgical year is a time for us to learn how to love like Christ loves in an age of lust. At a practical level, there are some important resolutions to make. For those who are engaged in unchaste behavior — from porn or sexual fantasies or unchaste actions with oneself of others — now is the time to respond to God’s help to end these sins and come to receive his forgiveness. For those who are not giving in to chaste behavior, I’d encourage nevertheless for you to turn off the television (which is becoming increasingly pornified) and use more time to love God through prayer, reading Sacred Scripture, or good spiritual books.
The Source and Summit of the Consecrated Life
Today as we come together at the beginning of this season of Advent, this new Liturgical year, at the commencement of the Year of Consecrated Life, we can arrive finally at what all of these seven practices of the consecrated life are meant to lead to, which is the most important part, the root and center, the source and summit of consecrated life as a whole which is the daily encounter with Christ in the Holy Eucharist. This is where the whole existence of consecrated men and women that cries out “Come, Lord Jesus!” is fulfilled! Consecrated persons show us how to center our whole existence on this same daily Advent of the Lord, for if we’re focused on the Lord here, we will more greatly appreciate his incarnation in Mary’s womb and his birth in Nazareth, and if we’re focused on the Lord here, we will be better prepared to receive him with love when he comes in majesty. During the Last Supper, Jesus said to the Father, “I consecrate myself for them,” — for us! — “so that they also may be consecrated in truth” and he asked his Father, “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth!” Jesus consecrated himself so that we might be consecrated. He made that dual act of consecration in Mass, so that we might be separated, cut off from falsity, and always united together with each other in Him who is the Truth. As we begin this new year, let us pray for the grace to live out our baptismal consecration with great love and passion in imitation of those in consecrated life so that together with them we may always be ready to run to meet Christ when he comes and together with Christ and all those for whom he has consecrated himself run out to carry his mission of the salvation of the world.
The readings for today’s Mass were:
Reading 1 IS 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.
Responsorial Psalm PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Reading 2 1 COR 1:3-9
Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alleluia PS 85:8
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Show us Lord, your love;
and grant us your salvation.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel MK 13:33-37
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”