From Our Pastor: Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! Well, liturgical new year. As we begin Advent (wow that snuck up on me), we start anew in the wake-up call reminder to stay alert and awake and ready. We start our climb to the Lord’s Mountain with Isaiah and peer into heaven and see the house of the Lord/the new Jerusalem/the new Zion! Here we see an end to violence and a new beginning in eternal peace. This is what we await for the coming of the Messiah. But we must make ourselves ready. This beginning is a new beginning for all. No matter what we have done. No matter how long we have been away from Him and away from the Mass, we can always begin anew. We can re-enter into that light of the Lord. Paul warns us to wake up, that our salvation is near! In the Mass there is no nearer place to our salvation than the foretaste of it in the Eucharist. He tells us the light cast out the darkness and that we must live always in the light, even when we are not seen by others. He tells us to “conduct ourselves properly as in the day.” Not living in sin but living for the light that conquers the darkness of our sin. That light is the Christ, and we are awaiting His coming in Advent and at the end of time. This loop of the end of the church year and the beginning flow so perfectly together as the waiting for the coming of the Lord is at Christmas, but also the second coming of Christ. In both we must prepare the way of the Lord and be ready! Be awake!
The Gospel then spells out the story of those who are ready and those who are not. This passage is used so incorrectly to spell out the “rapture.” Let me make this clear, the rapture is not nor has it ever been a teaching of the Church. The Catholic Church does not, nor has it ever believed or taught or even heard of the rapture. Christians in the early church NEVER taught about the rapture, in fact this was an invention of the 1700s or so. Christians didn’t ever teach this as part of scripture until recently because it is an incorrect reading of this passage. The correct reading of this passage is exactly as in the days of Noah. This is important. In that time many were warned, and no one listened. What is the flood of Noah foreshadowing? It is death and the conquering of sin and the pre-figurement of baptism. This passage is about baptism and death. At any moment we can be going about our lives and death will come for us. The question of this passage is, are you prepared? Are you baptized? Are you living for the Lord? Because at any moment you may see God face-to-face and are you ready? If you are not, this passage is a warning...BE READY! STAY AWAKE! Death comes like a thief in the night, and we must be ready. Remember last week I said we must be ready to see Him face-to-face. You must then heed this warning and prepare yourself for the coming of the Son of Man, at His birth (nativity), but also in the second coming. When Jesus warns us so bluntly in the Gospel as He did today, we must pay attention and respond to His light.
As we enter into this Advent season and make ourselves ready, there are many good practices we can bring into our homes and families. One is the Advent wreath and saying a prayer and lighting it every Sunday together in our home. There’s the Jesse tree and adding the figures and learning the stories of the Old Testament to point to the Messiah. The Advent calendar of counting down the days to get ready for His coming is another. Keeping the Holy Day of obligation for the Immaculate Conception. The las Mañanitas to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Las Posadas, which is a Hispanic practice of re-enacting the search for room for Mary and Joseph as they hurry to prepare for the birth of Christ. St. Nicholas’ Day. Putting out a nativity, and instead of that crazy elf, have Mary and Joseph travel around the house to the nativity scene and then have the three kings travel around the house to the nativity scene, or place it all out at once to commemorate the fullness of the nativity scene. Commemorate the feast of St. Lucy with saffron buns or cinnamon rolls. Attend confession as a family. Lessons and Carols here next weekend with QU and our parish. The O antiphons. Putting candles in our windows to show our waiting for the coming of the Lord. Keeping Christmas at bay to remind us of this time of preparation. Christmas is a season, and it doesn’t begin until Christmas Day. Then should begin the festivities. I am not a staunch no Christmas anything, but I am saying quit letting it creep earlier and earlier where we then end ON Christmas when that is the day to BEGIN Christmas. Use this time of preparation for the coming of the Christ child.
-Rev. Steven Arisman