First Sunday Advent C
1 Jer 33:14-16; Ps 25:4-5,8-10,14; 1 Thes 3:12 – 4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
(Scriptures included after homily)
The Bible’s, Old Testament Book of Exodus tells the story of a group of people who escaped oppression and slavery, and dreamt of a ‘Land of Freedom’. They were like little children, dreaming of someday driving a car. They could just see that car. They could even hold the steering wheel. But they still had to grow tall enough to reach the pedals. And they had to learn the ‘rules of the road’, so they wouldn’t kill themselves or others.
And just as ‘children wanting to drive’, need a teacher to train them, the Israelites needed a teacher to lead and guide them into that ‘Freedom’ they so strongly desired. You see, they had to learn that freedom didn’t mean: “All and Only me.” “It meant us!”
And just as any corporate manager needs to be trained to lead their staff, so too, Moses needed to be trained by God, in what to say to these Israelites. And like any training, the training of Moses took time. So the people had to w-a-i-t…
Now, if there are two things that we, as humans, in general, are not very good at, they are: waiting and being told what to do. Yes, we can be forced, if we’re obstinate. We can be tricked, if we’re gullible. We can even be slowly and subtly convinced, as were the Germans in the 40’s, the Russians at the turn of the 20th Century, and unfortunately, many Americans even today, that something intrinsically evil was not evil at all, but wonderful! And so they slowly plummeted, thinking they were rising.
Now, while those Israelites were impatiently awaiting Moses’ return from training, they too, slowly plummeted back into the sin of their former captors. “The Egyptians had golden idols, so why can’t we?” “The Egyptians had wild parties, so why can’t we?” And so they did! And all the while, unknown to them, God was watching. And His anger flared.
Yet, Moses pleaded to God for their safety. And in His great mercy, God relented . . . for a little while. Then, when Moses finally returned from his meeting with God, back to the Israelites, the LINE in the sand was drawn. “Whoever is FOR the LORD,” Moses said, “Let him come to me.” Yet many remained on the other side. And many suffered. And many died. And Moses mourned. And Moses even offered his own life to God, for the sake of ‘the lost.’
You see, their freedom WOULD eventually come, if they were patient enough to wait. And that freedom would still entail rules: rules of morality, rules of respect for others, rules of justice, rules that defined what freedom really is, and not what just a few greedy, or selfish, or power-hungry individuals wanted to propagandize the “masses” into believing. You see, Freedom is not about ME. It’s about US.
In time, those Israelites DID get their precious freedom. It was in God’s Plan, all along. But what they DID with it, that was another story! And 1,300 years later, they were, again, dreaming. They were so lost, themselves, that they didn’t even know what they were dreaming for: “a Messiah?” “a Savior?” “another Moses?” And they had to WAIT, . . and WAIT, . . and patiently WAIT!
Then when Jesus finally did come, He reminded them, that it was not about gold or wild parties. He reminded them that true freedom is not about ME, but about US. And He reminded them, that there were still a few rules, they had yet to learn, like loving God and one another.
You see, just as Moses did, Jesus ‘drew the LINE in the sand‘ and said, “Whoever is FOR the Lord, let him come to Me.” It was their choice, just as it is ours. Neither God the Father, nor Jesus, nor the Holy Spirit will ever force, or trick, or subtly propagandize anyone into believing in Him. It truly IS our Freedom!
But a time will come, as we heard in Luke’s Gospel today, when that choice will no longer be available. The ‘Sale’ will be over, the ‘Season’ ended. And Jesus says, “Be Prepared!“ “Stand firm” against the non-believing masses.
Every year in our Catholic Faith, we celebrate this beautiful Season of Advent. It’s our reminder that Jesus WILL return. Our reminder of our need for patient waiting. Our reminder, to never stop learning the power of freedom:
It’s not about ME. It’s about US.
And US can only grow by loving God and one another
with our entire being and with committed vigilance.
So, knowing that WE are HIS children. That we are the ones who chose to step over to His side of the Line, through our Baptisms and through our just being here today; Jesus tells us that, we will be redeemed… FREEDOM!
But now the question is,
“What are we doing, this Advent,
to save our lost brothers and sisters of the world?”
“What are we doing
to bring this awesome Hope of Eternal Life,
the Hope of Jesus,
into their hearts TOO?”
Scripture Readings for the Mass of 12-02-12
1st Sunday Advent C
First Reading: Jer 33:14-16
The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and for you I wait all the day.
Good and upright is the LORD; thus he shows sinners the way. He guides the humble to justice, and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are kindness and constancy toward those who keep his covenant and his decrees. The friendship of the LORD is with those who fear him, and his covenant, for their instruction.
Second Reading: 1 Thes 3:12-4:2
Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.
Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
Gospel: Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”