Homily for Mark 13:33-37
First Sunday of Advent 2011-12
Today we begin the season of Advent and this one is particularly special for us as we begin to use the new translation of the Mass. Over the next few weeks we are all in the process of learning the new prayers. It may be a struggle for us, as all of us are used to say the same things for Mass for the past forty years. Yet, I invite you to take a new look at the prayers of the Mass and in particular, when you hear something new, take a moment to reflect on it and the new language. There will be many, as the opening collects, prayers over the gifts and post communion prayers are all changed. Just think for the next three years you will hear something new at Mass each week.
We can begin with the opening collect from today’s Mass. Our prayer said that we “resolve to RUN forth to MEET Christ, with righteous deeds at his coming.” Our time of advent is this- to RUN to meet Christ. It is a great way to look at our advent preparations. Think of how much running around you will do between this weekend and Christmas. Perhaps you ran this weekend to the store for gifts. But the verb run is one that is active. We just do not want to run to the store, but run to meet Christ.
The Fact is, is that Jesus has come down from heaven in order to run to meet us. God runs to embrace us. But we for our part must run to meet him. We can all picture two lovers running toward each other to embrace. This is what we must do with Jesus, Run to embrace the God who runs to embrace us. How do we run to meet Christ?
We run with our righteous deeds. This means more than just being good. One way we can run to Christ with righteous deeds is by beginning this Advent to be more faithful to our daily Prayer. Prayer is one of the main ways we can run to embrace Christ who comes to us.
Secondly we can run to meet Christ by studying our faith this advent, learning more about our God who loves us so much He runs to us from heaven in order to embrace us on earth. He comes in order to takes us back with Him to be one with the Father as He is one with the Father. To know God is to love God, to discover His love for us and to return that love by allowing our intellect to inform our will to chose God in all things and to do His will and not our own. Love always sacrifices the will for the will of the other.
Another way we can run to meet Christ is through the Sacraments. Our sins weigh us down and inhibit us from running to Christ who runs to us. Our sins make us tumble and fall. Advent itself, is a penitential season, a time to look at ourselves and resolve to repent and reform our lives.
And finally the best way to run to meet Christ is through the Sacred Liturgy. In fact, here at Holy Mass is where God literally comes from heaven and runs to meet us in the Holy Eucharist. But we can’t just sit here, we must lift up our hearts and run to embrace Him..this is really what it means to take an active and full part in the Holy Mass. We begin by studying more about the Mass. All of the prayers that we say at Holy Mass are now better, fuller, more accurate and more theologically rich, they are a treasure house of grace for us. We can read these prayers before we even come to Mass and mediate on them and pray them.
The “Magnificat” is a wonderful resource here. New daily missals will be coming. Or we can go online to the bishops website.
Advent is a time for new beginnings. Surely this Advent is a unique time in history, an unprecedented time of grace for us. Ten years from now the liturgical landscape is going to be much different. I don’t know if the numbers of those attending Holy Mass is going to rise, but I do know that those who are attending will be stronger, holier, Catholics. They will know and understand the liturgy better, they will truly be participating in the liturgy more fully, actively, consciously, and this will bear great fruit in their lives and in the world.
The Eucharist is literally the Lord running to embrace you…He is coming….He is running to meet us at this and every Holy Mass. Let us rise and go to meet the Lord, through adoration. Let us rise and run to meet the Lord…May our Lady, mother of the New Advent run with us to meet the Lord, to embrace Him to become one with Him in the unfathomable intimacy of Divine Love. Amen.