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(Part 20)


First day of the new liturgical year
December 2, 2012

Today’s readings:
Psalm 25:4-5,8-9,10,14
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
Luke 21:25-28,34-36

We ended the last day of the liturgical year yesterday with looking at the end times. We begin the new liturgical year by again looking at the end times. We begin with the end, in order to appreciate where we are going.

We are also starting the Advent season. It is said that Advent is a time of watchful waiting for the coming of Jesus into the world. It is a time of hope and joy. But coupled with salvation history and the end times, I would say this is a time of great ADVENTure. Jesus comes as a baby, and Jesus will come again as a victorious King. In between is the ongoing struggle and spiritual war in the world. Now we are not just objects in this war (targets of Satan and the Lord), but we are subjects who actively engage in the war. We do this as the people of God who have been tasked to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus to the whole world. We are to evangelize. What an exciting time, as we race to the end of time!

Advent then becomes ADVENTURE, if U.R.E., that is, if U R Evangelizing. The New Evangelization is a time of great adventure.

To become effective evangelizers, we need to look at some important aspects.

One, we need to grow in holiness. We are God’s people, dressed in white garments. We are “to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.” (1 Thes 3:13b). We are to live pure always.

Two, we need to grow as a community that is an army, through our fraternal love and care for one another. We need to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all” (1 Thes 3:12). We work at unity and peace in our community and our parishes. We desire to bring the love of God to all.

Three, we need to live our covenant. We need to take our covenant seriously, as God takes covenants very seriously. Our covenant for us is our way of life. It is how we will experience the love and power of God. “All the paths of the Lord are faithful love toward those who honor the covenant demands.” (Ps 25:10). Our covenant is our guide, as we seek to faithfully live God’s will and plan for our lives. “The counsel of the Lord belongs to the faithful; the covenant instructs them.” (Ps 25:14).

Four, we need to continue to grow in living Christ, through community and Church formation. Paul exhorted the Thessalonians: “as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God--and as you are conducting yourselves--you do so even more.” (1 Thes 4:1). To grow in holiness and Christian perfection, to become true disciples and servants, to be enriched in being brethen, co-workers and comrades-in-arms, there has to be continuing formation and transformation. We need to continue walking along the path of holiness. We need to become more and more like Christ.

How do we continue to grow in Christ? Everything has already been laid out for you in CFC-FFL and the larger Church. “For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.” (1 Thes 4:2).

One, read the Bible every day. This is how God makes known His ways, teaches us His paths, and guides us in His truth (Ps 25:4-5a). There is no substitute to actually yourself getting into the Bible, the very word of God.

Two, have the humility to realize that you are a far way from the holiness desired by God for you. There is much to learn. Desire the teachings in community, the homilies at Mass, the pastoral events in the parish, the fellowship during households, the religious programs on TV and radio, etc. Rest assured that the Holy Spirit “guides the humble rightly, and teaches the humble the way.” (Ps 25:9).

Three, particularly in CFC-FFL, do not miss the formation modules and inspiring events offered. Do not pass up the opportunity to serve. And if you want to get deeper into the life and mission of our community, while at the same time getting more acquainted with Bible passages particularly relevant to us, read, reflect on and study my From the SG articles and books.

To become adventurers in the work of the New Evangelization, we need to have a sense of great urgency, for we are in the end times. With that comes the corresponding excitement. What a great time to be alive and serving Christ! “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, .... and then (we) will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Lk 21:25a,27).

Those who do not know Christ “will be in dismay, perplexed ...., will die of fright” (Lk 21:25b,26a), “for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Lk 21:26b). For us we are not to be afraid. We are in fact to “stand erect and raise (our) heads because (our) redemption is at hand.” (Lk 21:28b). The final victory is at hand. The fullness of salvation awaits. We are on the verge of entry into the eternal promised land, heaven.

None of us should presume that we are already assured our place in heaven. A place indeed has already been prepared for us, but we need to persevere to the end. Our hearts are not to “become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” (Lk 21:34a). We are to “be vigilant at all times” (Lk 21:36a). We are to pray for strength to escape the imminent tribulations (Lk 21:36b). We are to prepare ourselves “to stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk 21:36c).

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