Here we are at the beginning of the Church’s new year-the season of Advent. It is a season of preparation, with penance, mixed with some fasting to prepare us for the Coming of Christ in History (Christmas), the Coming of Christ in Mystery (the sacraments), and the Coming of Christ in Majesty (the Second Coming). The first three weeks of Advent will focus on the Second Coming, while during the last week, the liturgical focus will be on the immediate preparation for Christmas. Naturally, we should always prepare with prayer and fasting to receive the Holy Eucharist anytime. We should also prayerfully examine our hearts in preparation to receive the Lord’s mercy as we are in line for confession.
The readings today for the First Sunday of Advent – “Cycle C” touch a bit on all four “categories of man” in St. John Paul II’s masterpiece: “Men and Women He Created Them-A Theology of the Body.” The first reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah describes that the Lord will raise up a “shoot” from the house of King David. Jesus is from the ancestral lineage of King David, which is why He will be born in Bethlehem, the city of David. It is certainly a beautiful promise to a suffering Israel and Judah that they will be “safe and secure.” This is also a promise that He will come to redeem us as a people and us personally. St. John Paul II recalls this in his catechesis when he reflects on promise of the redemption of the body and the redemption of all of creation.
The Responsorial Psalm 25, “to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul,” reminds us that all of our desires, which are created for the Divine, are now disordered from the Fall and we have to allow God to re-order them so He can guide our paths to Him. All of us need to recognize that we are sinners in need of a savior and that His paths are right for us, if we allow Him to guide us and teach us His truth.
The Second Reading from St. Paul to the Thessalonians 3 touches on “original man” and a bit on “eschatological man,” because we have such dignity, beauty and are made in God’s image in original solitude, unity, nakedness and innocence, we should conduct ourselves to please God and to be blameless in holiness before Our God and Father. St. Paul is asking us and exhorting us to live the life that God wants us to live, because Jesus is returning to judge the living and the dead.
The Holy Gospel of Saint Luke 21 also magnificently underscores our destiny, “eschatological man,” but that we are also “historical man” and must be vigilant about sin. Saint Luke is mentioning the disturbing of heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon and stars. This reminds us of Old Testament prophesies from Isaiah, Joel, and Ezekiel about God crushing pagan kingdoms. The “roaring of the seas” is an illusion to foreign nations battling for power and control. God will punish his wayward children, Israel, and at other times defend Israel from their foes. Verse 27 describes the Son of Man “coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This not a time to grow weary and drowsy due to sin, the affect of who we are as “historical man.” Although we have been redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus, God is warning us that this day, the Second Coming, will come when you don’t expect it, so don’t presume on your salvation. We must stay close to Christ during this life by lifting up our hearts and souls to Him. He is trying to prepare us for the eschaton, so we can stand aright with confidence and face our divine savior and judge with humility.
Father Tom DeSimone was ordained a priest on May 13, 2006, the Feast day of Our Lady of Fatima. He most recently served as Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in White Plains, NY. He joins the staff of the Theology of the Body Institute on a three year leave from the Archdiocese of New York, to become the Institute’s first ever full time spiritual advisor and Director of Clergy Development.