Catholic Handicapped Day
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.”
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.”
In other words Fr. Dante Salces-Barril, SVD (Rome, Italy)
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The church opens a new liturgical year. And we pray that it is not only calendars that will be opened but our hearts as well. Hearts that are gracious hosts to the Lord who comes.
Advent literally means “to come.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux identifies three comings of the Lord: “In his first coming, our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; the middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.”
So, the Lord did not just come in the past; he comes now, in the present, and he will come in the future. He came yesterday. He comes today, and He will come tomorrow. Does he never get tired of coming to us?
This reminds me of my sister’s suitor who would come to our house all the time. Even in weird times, like six in the morning! Who does that?
God! He comes to us always… like the past, present, future type of always! God acts like a suitor (on is my sister’s suitor acting like God?). Is it possible then that God is so in love with us?
The gospel presents a terrifying end-time scenario. Surely then, we shall not see a God-in-love in it! Wrong. The episode’s genre (type or literary form) is known as “apocalyptic,” something that was in vogue in Jesus’ time and even earlier. Its main objective is to provide hope! It is weird for us “moderns,” but really, all that the gospel wants to say is that God is in control. The sun, the moon, the stars may be shaken, but we all need to chill because God “has our back.” This is God’s version of Renz Verano’s “Remember Me,” especially that part where the song goes, “umulan, bumagyo, gumuho man ang mundo, ikaw at ako pa rin” (no matter what comes—rain, storm, or the end of the world—you and I remain together).
“Advent” is a fancy highfalutin term for love, for missing someone. This is what the advent wreath is all about—the violet color, the four candles. Advent is love. It is God missing you and me. God came, comes, and will come because he loves us. And He misses us terribly.