1st Sunday of Advent
November 30, 2014 – Year B
Readings: Is 63:16B-17, 19B; 64:2-7; Psalm 80, 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Today, the first day of the season of Advent, Holy Mother Church tells us that Christmas is coming. We notice that the church is pretty late in her announcement, because here in the town of Bedford, the Christmas ornaments have been at the Elks Home since October. At Liberty Lake Park, the decorations have been up for a few weeks. The radio station 93.5 has been playing Christmas songs 24 hours a day for more than two weeks now.
Although our Holy Mother Church is announcing that Christmas is coming, in the readings we don’t get a clue about the celebration of Christmas. They are talking about what will happen at the end of time. There are two Christmases that we will be talking about for the entire season of Advent. The second part of Advent, which starts on the 17th of December, is in preparation for the first Christmas, the birth of our Lord, 2014 years ago.
But from today until Dec. 16th, we are preparing for the second Christmas – the second coming of our Lord. That is why the gospel today is asking us to watch – to be prepared – to be ready. When I was the chaplain for the Dominican sisters in New York, there were stairs there, and every time I was on my way out, one of them would say, “Father! Watch!” because many people who were not familiar with the place would fall and trip.
Watch where you are going. That is what Holy Mother Church wants us to do – to remind ourselves of where we are going – our final destiny – and to prepare ourselves every single day of our lives for our Lord’s coming. I cannot think of a better person to give us an example of how to prepare for this day than Deacon Ray.
I have had the privilege over the past week of visiting him every day and praying morning and evening prayer with him. Out of habit, as I got ready to leave each evening, I said, “I’ll see you tomorrow.” Deacon Ray always answered, “Yes, if I am still around, I’ll see you. But if not, I’ll be the happiest person, because I’ll be with the Lord and the Blessed Mother and my wife, Kathy. I am ready.”
It is possible to treat death like a sister who will take us safely home, and to look forward to the day that we will receive a reward and gift from God.
Every time we pray the night prayers, we always say, “May the Lord give us a restful night and a peaceful death.” This is being prayed by all the priests, religious and third orders, and for the first time in thirty years, it suddenly became very meaningful to me. A peaceful death! Deacon Ray was there, lying down, saying, “I am ready.”
This is the kind of preparation Holy Mother Church would like us to do to always be ready. Be prepared! Watch! And while we are ready, although we continue to do our daily obligations, our daily routines, we always have in mind our final destiny. We know as we wait for the second Christmas, we are not waiting with anxiety or in distress. We wait in joyful hope, in joyful anticipation, just as these children are waiting for Santa Claus, for the gifts on Christmas.
The gift we are going to receive from our Lord is not something we will get tired of after using it for a month or a year. He will give us life eternal. Peace and joy that will never end.
That is why the spirit of our preparation for the second Christmas can be summed up in our prayers after the Our Father when we say, “Deliver us Lord from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all distress as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior, Jesus Christ.”
(Note: Deacon Raymond O. Roderique was born into eternal life in the evening on this day, following a recitation of the rosary, surrounded by his family.)