Monday, November 24, 2014

First Sunday of Advent - November 30, 2014

First Reading Commentary
The opening verse prophesies that our heavenly Father and Redeemer are One, Who is our Lord and our God.  Out of love He has given us free will, and the choice is before us: to follow Him or to wander.  Free will is the simple answer as to why we wander from God’s ways but the complete answer is a little more complicated than that. 

Many of us can recall the various occasions of temptations we’ve succumbed to, the times we have hardened our hearts.  Still, a lingering question is why is it so difficult to tap into the power of God when the enemy is egging us on?  That’s the question that has no simple answer. 

In His Fatherhood some of the choices we make as His children surely grieve Him; and perhaps we can read into this with eternal eyes even from the Old Testament, that the grief our God experiences caused by our disobedience is a form of suffering He also allows us to experience, not as a payback but because His eternal plan was to lovingly invite us to be co-workers in His work of redemption; and thus, our acceptance of suffering would have a redemptive value.  And so, the Father of all in a very great mystery would also experience the other side of life by rending the heavens and coming down among us as a Child through a Virgin Mother. 

The pains of His Divine Love we may never fully comprehend; but it was enough for Him to become one of us in order to save us that we may spend an eternity at His Bosom.  So great and incomprehensible is this Divine Love that would cause Him to sacrifice His only Son for our sake!  So mysterious and holy is this Love that would permit an Immaculate woman to also experience this suffering by means of a sword piercing her soul because she is the Mother and eyewitness of God’s suffering Son as well as the Mother of all His adopted and not always obedient sons and daughters.

Second Reading Commentary
We learn something very important here from Saint Paul about fellowship with Jesus Christ and how that is applied to our daily lives.  It’s all about sharing -- sharing God’s graces with each other -- sharing our spiritual gifts with each other.  In doing so, we will not be lacking in our Lord’s spiritual gifts as we wait for Christ’s glorious return.  In other words, the spiritual gifts that God did not impart to one soul, that same soul can still be a beneficiary of those gifts through another soul that willingly shares his/her talents, and vice-versa.  This is clearly a description of how important each body part is in the mystical body of Christ.  And our faith in Christ is confirmed by these graces and gifts which we receive from the Holy Spirit through the waters of Baptism.    

Gospel Commentary
One of the early heresies declared that not even Jesus Christ Himself knew the exact time of His return.  After reading this Gospel, it’s not all that difficult to find yourself honestly asking within yourself what Jesus did or did not know.  Certainly as our Omnipotent and Omniscient God, He is fully aware of the exact time of His glorious return.  What we may interpret from this Gospel is that it was not part of Christ’s Messianic mission to reveal when His return would occur.  But we human beings are very inquisitive and desire to know all the mysteries of life.  Not knowing when Jesus will return, however, is actually merciful.  Saint Gregory and other saints have taught that it is indeed a very great mercy of the Almighty to veil our knowledge of this so that we can make good use of our time by always being prepared for the Second Coming.  When you think about it, if we believe that it is never too late for conversion, then how haphazardly would many of us conduct ourselves if we knew the exact time of the Parousia?   Saints Gregory and Bonaventure also teach us that God’s choice to leave us in this uncertainty was to help prevent our attachment to temporal goods. 

The words evening, midnight, at the cockcrowing and morning are symbolic of the different ages of a human life: that is, infancy, youth, adulthood and the twilight years.  We are exhorted to be always ready, for we do not know when the Judge will return.  We are expected to watch, because we are charged with the care of our soul, which is also the temple or house of God, and which is to remain His temple for all eternity.  The Greek verb used for the word “watch” does not necessarily mean watching with the eyes but more about staying alert lest one is overtaken by something unfortunate, such as indifference to one’s salvation.