One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

November 30, 2008

For the First Sunday of Advent

Mark 13:33-37
Isaiah 63:16b-7,19b; 64:2-7.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9

With this past Friday blackened by the dollars of their materialistic spending, many American Catholics may think the season of Advent is a preparation for Christmas.
However, the fact is there are two parts to this season.
The second part begins on December 17th, that is, one week before Christmas Eve.
On the 17th of December, one of the prayers at Mass for Advent changes to show that the last days of Advent are devoted to preparation specifically for Christmas.
By contrast, these first days and first weeks of Advent have prayers and readings about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, the first day of the Advent Season is also the first day of the Church’s year of worship.
All the prayers and readings at Mass today devote themselves directly to the Second Coming, not to Christmas.
It’s as if to say the whole year is to be spent watching out for the Second Coming.
In the Gospel today, Jesus gives us a short, repetitive harangue.
Be watchful!
Be alert!
... be on the watch.
Watch, therefore....
Watch!

The Gospel today calls for a slight rewriting of a Santa song.
You better watch out, I’m telling you why:
JESUS CHRIST is coming to town.

The Lord Jesus Christ, not Santa!
The words of Jesus in his Gospel today come right after his description of his Second Coming [verses 26 and 27].
And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds
with great power and glory.
And then he will send out the angels,
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

That’s what we uphold in the Creed at every Sunday Mass, as we shall do here and today.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.

Whether the Second Coming is going to happen two minutes from now or two more millennia from now, we don’t know.
Nonetheless, Jesus insists we be ready for it at every moment.
Though he is speaking specifically about his Second Coming, his teaching today works also to warn us to be always ready for the hour of our death.
So, what happens to each of us at death, after death, until the Second Coming, and after the Second Coming?
The Word of the Lord in his New Testament spells out the order of events.
At the moment each man dies, Christ Jesus himself passes an everlasting judgment on that particular man.
Whether a particular man is judged worthy of heaven or of hell, his soul shall live on, while his earthly body turns into dust.
After our individual deaths and particular judgments, each of our souls lives on— but every soul also waits.
Every soul waits to rise from the dead for the Last Judgment.
Even the souls in heaven— St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, St. Andrew the Apostle whose feast is today (November 30, 2008), St. Diego, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, and all the saints— all the souls in heaven— are waiting to rise from the dead, to have new bodies that shall never die.
The resurrection of all shall happen with the Second Coming of Christ for the Last Judgment.
If he returns before you die, you shall not miss out: you shall have a resurrection body also.
In our resurrection and the Last Judgment, our bodies shall finally share in the particular judgment we each received at death.
Those who turned away from goodness on earth shall undergo the resurrection of unending condemnation.
Those who did good on earth shall receive the resurrection into glory— glory in soul and in body.
In the life of the world to come, heaven shall be new again, and earth and the universe renewed and glorified.
Up close and with naked eyes, the holy ones shall enjoy God living with them, among them, within them.
No more death, no more sickness, no more pain, no more injury, no more weakness, no more disability, no more sorrow, no more sin.
The redeemed and holy of the entire human race shall finally share unfailing unity.
God will open himself as the inexhaustible, ever-flowing wellspring of happiness and peace for all his holy ones.
Do you “most truly” want that?
St. Benedict asks about a man who wants to be a monk si revera quaerit Deum, “if he most truly seeks God.”
However, most truly seeking God is not for monks only.
Today in his Gospel, Jesus says most truly seeking God is a mission for every Christian.
What I say to you, I say TO ALL:
‘Watch!’

If we are not watching, not seeking, then we will not find God, nor see him, and we will be lost forever.
It is hard work always to be watchful and alert in our service of God, but we have no excuse.
If we receive the Eucharist we have no excuse.
The Word of the Lord through St. Paul in the second reading today tells of:
... the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in EVERY way,
with ALL discourse
and ALL knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are NOT LACKING IN ANY spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God has enriched us in EVERY way, so that we are NOT LACKING IN ANY spiritual gift.
If we do not believe that, then we do not believe that Jesus gave up his body for us, and shed his blood for us.
This is my body ... GIVEN UP FOR YOU
This is ... my blood ... SHED FOR YOU

God in flesh and blood has given EVERYTHING in Christ to his Church.
Yes:
... the grace of God ... in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in EVERY way,
with ALL discourse
and ALL knowledge...
so that you are NOT LACKING IN ANY spiritual gift

We make ourselves inexcusably accountable to judgment when we choose to receive the Eucharist in which God commits himself to enrich us in EVERY way with EVERY spiritual gift.
We must be watchful and alert in putting to use all these gifts in everything we do in thought, word, and deed.
Watchful and alert, because “We believe,” and “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”

UT IN OMNIBUS GLORIFICETUR DEUS
That God Be Glorified in All







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