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(Part 102)


November 30, 2014
First Sunday of Advent
Start of Liturgical Year 2015

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 63:16-17,19
Psalm 80:3-4,16-17,19-20
Mark 13:33-37
1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Jesus warns us, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk 13:33). We do not know, but we can read the signs of the times. The end times are upon us.

But unfortunately the world is in a sorry situation today, as people, including many so-called Christians, have rejected the reign of Jesus over their lives. “Too long have we been like those you do not rule” (Is 63:19a). They carry Jesus’ name but do not look to him as Lord. They are those “on whom your name is not invoked.” (Is 63:19b).

If we are to examine our conscience, we might see that we are among those people.

  • “Why do you make us wander, Lord, from your ways” (Is 63:17a). Many Christians have lost their way. They are the 99 lost sheep out of the 100.
  • We “harden our hearts so that we do not fear you” (Is 63:17b). Many Christians no longer look to Jesus as Lord. They have become worldly and even resistant to Judeo-Christian morality.

If we look at the world around us, we see the abominations that are taking place.

  • “Why have the wicked invaded your holy place” (Is 63:18a). FEMEN activists now regularly invade churches, dance on altars, bare their breasts at St Peter’s Square.
  • “Why have our enemies trampled your sanctuary?” (Is 63:18b). IS and Boko Haram militants now regularly demolish churches and other religious places.

We beg God to intervene. “Those who would burn or cut it down­may they perish at your rebuke.” (Ps 80:17).

There is apostasy in the Church today. When the Son of Man returns, will be find faith on earth? If Jesus does not return soon, and if the faith situation is not reversed drastically, more and more souls will be lost. “Return for the sake of your servants” (Is 63:17c).

What must we do? Well, God’s work of salvation has been entrusted to His people. “It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.” (Mk 13:34). We work in faithfulness and we keep watch in anticipation. Since we do not know when the Master is returning (Mk 13:35), “may he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.” (Mk 13:36).

We have been empowered to witness. Through all these years, “the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you” (1 Cor 1:6). God has provided what we need in the work of evangelization. Thus “in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge” (1 Cor 1:5). Thus “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 1:7). Thus we work and evangelize, even as we look to Jesus’ return. We make good use of the time given us to help bring many others back to Christ, even as we pray for the Lord’s return, when the sorry situation in the world will finally be reversed. “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Is 63:19c).

When Jesus does return, will we be ready? Will we have done our work well? Will we have brought in the rich harvest? Will we be wide awake, fully engaged in the work? “What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” (Mk 13:37).

The work is vast. There are billions to be reached, starting with lapsed Catholics. And so our Church has called for the New Evangelization. This is about the power of Pentecost, with the Holy Spirit working to enable us to help bring salvation to people. “Stir up your power, and come to save us.” (Ps 80:3b). We want to return to the apostolic zeal of Pentecost. We want to be restored to empowerment and faithfulness to mission. “O God, restore us” (Ps 80:4a).

Indeed God has provided everything we need, starting with arranging for us to meet Christ and giving us the grace and strength to live Christ. “God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor 1:9). Now we must share Christ. We must be insistent, persistent, enduring, persevering, suffering joyfully for the cause. All these God too will provide. “He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 1:8).

We pray for our holy Roman Catholic Church, the only strong institution truly standing up for faith, family and life, established by Jesus himself, as she pursues the New Evangelization. She is the instrument of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the gospel to the world. She has endured for two millennia, but is severely threatened today. Although the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against her, she is greatly weakened. We ask God to restore, to revive, to renew, to strengthen His Church, “the stock your right hand has planted, and the son whom you made strong for yourself.” (Ps 80:16).

But the Church is us, especially the 99.9+% that are the laity. We need to be restored and revived, we need to turn to Jesus, we need to cling to him, we need to continue to experience more fully his salvation. “Then we will not withdraw from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Lord God of hosts, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.” (Ps 80:19-20).

Onward to the New Evangelization!

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