Today we begin the season of Advent. The word “Advent” means “coming.” During Advent, we celebrate and recall the coming of the Lord at Bethlehem two thousand years ago. The season also invites us to focus on His Second Coming at the End of the World, and His coming to us at the time of our baptism and when we receive His Sacraments, such as the Holy Eucharist. The common theme of today’s readings is that vigilant service prepares us for the coming of Christ as our Savior during Christmas and as our Judge and Lord at the End of the World. The season encourages us to examine our lives, to reflect on our need for God to enter our lives, and to prepare earnestly for, and eagerly await the coming of Christ.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes his vision of all nations making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, affirming their faith in the one true God. In the second reading, Paul exhorts the Roman Christian community to prepare to meet Jesus in his Second Coming by discharging their duties properly, and by freeing themselves from their former pagan tendencies toward excessive drinking, sexual promiscuity, jealousy and rivalry. We, too, are challenged to make spiritual preparations for Christ’s birth in our lives. In the Gospel reading, Jesus warns us of the urgency of our vigilant preparation for His return.
During this Advent season, I invite you to make concrete plans to grow spiritually. As Mother Theresa said, “Do simple things, and do them with love.” Every morning when you get up, say this simple prayer, “Lord, show me someone today with whom I may share your love, mercy and forgiveness.” Saint Theresa of Calcutta further said, “Whatever you do in your family, for your children, for your husband, for your wife, you do for Jesus,” which is very powerful. This is because goodness or kind acts begin at home, our work place, or wherever we are. I have a simple suggestion, at night when you go to bed ask this question, “Where have I found Christ today?” The answer will be God’s Advent gift to you that day. By being alert and watchful we will receive an extra gift: Christ Himself.
We are all future oriented; we worry and plan for the future. We save for a rainy day, to get married, to buy a home, to send our children to college, to retire in comfort and to protect ourselves against future misfortunes. In the same way, we also need to prepare because we don’t know when Jesus will return. Jesus says in Mathew 24:43, “Behold I can come like a thief.” That is to say He can come at an unexpected day or time, so we need to prepare. Therefore, let this Advent season be the time of such preparation for us. We have four weeks until Christmas, so the question is: How do we prepare for the coming of the Lord, and how are we going to use this grace–filled season? I know it is a busy time of the year, but I encourage you to set aside some time each day for your spiritual life. Therefore, during this season I invite you to attend weekday Masses, pray the rosary, read a chapter daily from the Gospel of St. Mathew (in Year A, we read mostly from the Gospel of Mathew), spend more time in personal prayer, go to confession and perform kind and charitable works. In order to assist you and to make this season more meaningful, we have several programs planned throughout the parish. There are a few mentioned in the flyer that we just mailed to you, but for more information, please read the bulletin or call the parish office.
I am pleased to invite you all to join me in welcoming Saint Anthony of Padua. Saint Anthony will be visiting our parish in the form of two holy, first-class and precious relics from his Basilica in Padua, Italy. In our church, we will expose the holy relics in front of the altar for veneration on Saturday, December 7th from 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm. Please note that there will be no veneration during the 4:30 pm Mass. We will leave the holy relics in front of the altar until 6:30 pm for those who could not venerate before Mass.
The common questions people ask about the relics are: Do we allow people to touch the reliquaries? YES. Do we allow photography? YES. Can people touch their religious objects to the relics? YES. Please know that any items touched with reverence to a first class relic will become a third class relic of the saint: rosary bead, medals, crosses, statues, etc. There will be a prayer box into which you may drop your intentions, and Friars around the world will be praying for those intentions. The intentions can be written either in the church or at home, prior to coming to church. It is a great blessing to welcome Saint Anthony of Padua to our church. I pray that you all be benefited by renewing your faith and understanding the glory of God in His Holy saints.