Jesus Christ is the leader and perfecter of faith. Fixing our eyes on him, we go forward with firm decision to reach what lies ahead.
St. Paul says that “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” The saying shows that, for him, time moves forward. That is to say, time is lineal, making its way and advancing, under God’s providence, toward a sure goal.
And this point of view belongs, yes, to all of us who call ourselves Christians. For those who truly belong to Christ, are Abraham’s descendant, heirs to the promise (Gal 3, 29). So, it does not fit us to live as though time were cyclical. No, liturgical seasons do not go around like a merry-go-round. Events do not repeat themselves. Nor do the same things keep coming back in the same way.
So then, Advent this year is not just another Advent. Rather, it is as unique and unrepeatable as any Advent in the past. It is a step forward towards where we want to get to. It is quite different from the one before or after it. And with each passing Advent or liturgical season, we are closer to our goal. Unless we stay stagnant, falling back, in effect, for not going forward (SV.EN II:146).
And we could easily become stagnant should we look out only for our own affairs, tasks, interests, pleasures. Should our concerns have to do mainly with our rooms, our books, our Masses (SV.EN XI:190), with our devotions and novenas. Self-absorbed in that way, we turn insensitive to Jesus who draws near to us in the person of the poor.
To get ahead, straining forward, as Christians, we need eyes that see poor people and a heart that feels for them.
It is because Christianity is not only about looking inside; its heart feels for those who are helpless (J.A. Pagola). So, “we cannot isolate ourselves in our religion so as not to hear the cry of those who die of hunger….” For most likely, “the little sensibility there is to the immense suffering in our world” shows that, paralyzed by selfish worries, we cannot march forward. More than ever, then, it is time for us “to leave God for God” (SV.EN IX:252), to step forward and get ahead as Church.
And we have to avail of every opportunity to care for the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters. For if we let it pass, we will never get it back, since time is lineal. And every opportunity we avail of is one more step forward toward the Lord’s mountain, toward God’s house of peace.
Lord Jesus, make us discern your body in our celebrations of your Supper (1 Cor 11, 17-30). In that way, we can get on with our lives as you want, moving forward, strong and healthy.
1 December 2019
First Sunday of Advent (A)
Is 2, 1-5; Rom 13, 11-14; Mt 24, 37-44