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 29, 2009

For the First Sunday of Advent

Jeremiah 33:14-16
1 Thessalonians 3:12 to 4:2
Luke 21:25-28,34-36

The readings and prayers at Mass these first days and weeks of Advent dwell heavily on the Second Coming.
Not until the seventeenth day of December— not until eight days before Christmas do the Advent prayers and readings turn to give over all their thought to the birth of Christ.
This year, two days after “Black Friday,” today is a “Violet Sunday,” the first of the Advent season.
Black Friday’s fever of spending goes against today’s Word of the Lord telling us to get ready for the wrenching end of the world, the Second Coming, the Last Judgment, the new heavens, and the new earth.
Today the Lord’s Gospel tells us when that time draws near all the nations, the land, the seas, the winds, the skies, the stars “will be in dismay, perplexed... roaring” and “shaken.”
“People will die of fright.”
We will need to be watchful, wise, sober, steadfast, prayerful, and strong, because suffering and persecution will eat away at our faith.
We will be in danger of crumbling and falling away from God.
So, the second Word of the Lord today tells us to outdo ourselves in pleasing God, so that we will be blameless in holiness in his sight when the Lord Jesus returns.
Today in his Gospel he says the day of his return “will surprise like a trap,” and “will assault everyone.”
Yes, the day of Christ’s return will bring on the joyful ascension and glorification of all who had already chosen to be holy in his soul-rending sight.
However, that day will dawn as the Word of God paints it today.
It will break in upon the world gone baleful, forbidding, and dark.
From today’s readings of the Word of God, we might call today “Black Sunday.”
Since the early ninth century, when there was no religious order besides Benedictines, we have daily clothed ourselves in black.
Black to teach rejection of the colorful fashions of the world.
Black to teach readiness for the Kingdom that is not of this world— the Kingdom in fullness with the Second Coming of Christ.
Black-clad Benedictine monks are not the only Christians who must stand watch for the Second Coming.
For all Christians, there is nothing to measure against the Second Coming, and little to wait for except the Second Coming.
Black Friday’s eagerness for worldly discounts and worldly gains is a distraction and a danger.
Yes, Christmas is coming.
However, we only celebrate Christmas as the birthday of Christ so as to stir ourselves another way and another time in readiness for his Second Coming.
We may be buying gifts to give away on Christmas.
Let it remind us that God gave away his Son to free us for life, joy, wisdom and holiness at his Second Coming.
Let Christmas gift-giving remind us to give away ourselves to God so that we are ready for the Second Coming.
There are many ways to train for surrendering to God.
Every year on a particular Wednesday we blacken our heads with ashes, and hear that Wednesday’s Gospel tell us to give ourselves away to the Father by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
It is the same today, God’s Words telling us:
Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness

Be vigilant at all times
and pray

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all

be blameless in holiness before our God and Father

conduct yourselves to please God

stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand

Our “redemption”— our “buy-back” is at hand.
Every celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ is a kind of “Black Friday,” with Christ spending, spending, and spending his very self to buy us back out of sin and death.
In his Body and Blood, Christ sells himself to buy our freedom.
In his Body and Blood he gives us our freedom.
Our freedom remains intact and grows only if we choose to live a life of holiness ready for “Kingdom Come.”
The day of your death or the day of Christ’s return— whichever comes first for you is the day of “Kingdom Come.”
In his Body and Blood Christ is always ready.
Are you?

[Official Church teaching about the end of the world.]

That God Be Glorified in All