ON THIS FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT we are reminded that today is a special day, and not just a day, but the beginning of what should be a very special season in each of our lives – ADVENT! During Advent we focus on waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus, and during the week before Christmas our waiting changes to waiting for our celebration of the birth of Jesus. Anytime we wait we do so because we expect something to happen; we wait for a bus or train because we expect it to arrive. When we wait for a bus or train, we cannot see it coming but hope it will come. During Advent, we are waiting for the Second Coming of Jesus because the Second Coming of Jesus will bring all God’s plans for the world to completion. As we wait in hope for the Second Coming of Jesus, we know He is with us in so many ways especially in the sacraments. So during Advent we are conscious of the fact that God is present with us while we wait for the fulfillment of God’s plans. The words of Jesus in the Gospel today express the mood of this early part of the Advent season: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33). In the first reading today the Jews expressed hope in God even when going through a difficult time and so we heard glimpses of hope in that reading: “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” (Isaiah 63:17). In the second reading Paul reminds his listeners of the many gifts they have received from God which will support them until the Second Coming of Jesus: “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7). For those who are finding these times difficult for one reason or another, the message of Advent is “Wait for God in patient hope.” Despite how we may feel at times, the reality is this: God has not abandoned us – in fact God is always with us, though sometimes our lack of faith prevents us from seeing Him. Remember Jesus in the womb of Mary for nine months; Mary could not see Jesus but she knew that the Word had been made flesh and she was waiting in hope for His birth. Wait in patient hope for God to fulfill his plans in His own way in His own time. Remember the Jews in our first reading waiting in patient hope for God: 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” (Isaiah 63:17). Remember Jesus in our Gospel advising never to give up waiting: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33). Remember the word of St. Paul: “You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7). If you find these times challenging and difficult, remember the message of Advent: “Wait for God in patient hope.” Let us remember, too, that as Catholic Christians everything begins with Christ’s coming – the whole passionate adventure is set in motion. How fortunate we are, constantly given the opportunity to begin over again! To relive the richest, most meaning-laden moments of humankind’s and each one’s own personal history. This is the opportunity the liturgical representation of the mysteries of Christ affords each one of us. And how each of us needs such an opportunity in our lives. The many elements in our culture that reflect so little of the Gospel. But, once again, with Christ we can always begin again. Each of us can make our own the anguished call of the chosen people in our first reading today: “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” (Isaiah 63:17). Let’s approach this Advent in a new and different way, folks. Let’s all begin our lives of faith anew, in hopeful anticipation for our Lord, our Savior, and our Redeemer – Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

OF NOTE:

  • I was not able to celebrate any Masses last Sunday and was hospitalized at OSU for a couple of days beginning last Sunday with Type-A flu and high fever. My oncologist had warned me previously about my immune system being compromised as a result of chemotherapy; she was right. Given the fact that I am very susceptible to contracting viruses, and this being cold and flu season, I need to take some precautions. So if you don’t see me in the Sacristy before Mass, processing in or out at Sunday Mass, distributing the Eucharist, shaking hands or greeting people before or after Mass, or if you see me wearing a face mask at times, this is the reason. I had hoped that I would not have to take these steps, but as sick as I became and as quickly as the flu escalated, I am taking the advice (and wise warning) of my oncologist.
  • “Comfort, give comfort to my people says your God” (Is 40:1). And so we will with the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, available after all Masses next Sunday. Additional information is in this bulletin.
  • This Sunday we officially welcome through the Rite of Welcoming and Acceptance those who are preparing to become fully initiated members of the Catholic faith. These men and women are participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) programs for both Holy Cross Church and Saint Joseph Cathedral. This is an important step for these men and women and we congratulate them, and continue to pray for them on their spiritual journey and journey of faith formation.

Fr. Mike Lumpe