1st Sunday of Advent A 2016

 

I had a random theological thought.  Not a profound one but a random one.  If the followers of Jesus had known that the seven days they believe the world was created in really represented millions of years, would they have thought the second coming would be so immediate?  If they had known that God had been so patient in creation, would they have surmised that God would be just as patient in salvation?

 

You cannot deny the urgency we find in the scriptures today as we always do in anticipating the second coming on the first Sunday of Advent.  St. Paul reminds us, “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.  For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand.”  And Jesus warns us against lethargy in our belief.  We should be like those vigilantly guarding our house against a thief, “for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”   

 

In two thousand years, it is easy to lose that sense of urgency about the return of Jesus in glory.  But we need the energy of urgency if we are to truly proclaim the Gospel because the hour is truly here.  It always has been.  For if this day is like every other day in the history of Christianity, someone will be baptized into the promises of faith; someone will come to the realization that they are the beloved of God.   And on this like every recent day, someone whose faith has been slowly leaking away will have none.  For that first group, it will be a day of rejoicing and peace; for the second group, they may not have even noticed their hour had come.

 

So this indeed is a moment shot through with urgency.  Our theme this year recognizes that.   Our theme is (drumroll please), “We are an Evangelizing Roman Catholic community.”  It is the first line of our mission statement that we will explore in the next few years.  You are probably picturing a very long banner going around the entire church, but we have adopted as our motto, “Come and See.”

 

For Catholic evangelization must take on a tone that fits us.  We will not be waving signs in the face of people.  We will not hand out little tracts that threaten damnation.  But I believe that we are fully capable of telling our story – the story of how we have been blessed – the story of how we have found family –the story of how we come together and care for each around the word and presence of our God.

 

So we evangelize with a gentle invitation.  “Want to come to mass with me?”  “Let me tell you what my parish is doing.”  “This is where I find my peace.”  We can say, “Come and see” the place where our burden is laid down and others pick it up in prayer.  “Come and see” the place where you know you are welcomed no matter where you are coming from, no matter how you lived or what has happened in your past.  “Come and see” the place where I hear God’s word and hold him in my hand.

 

There is an urgency in the world today.  A need to come together and to heal.  A need to fight for justice and show our compassion.  A need to rely on God and share God’s mercy.  You are here because this is that place for you.  I know it is for others who are not here.  As an evangelizing Roman Catholic community, we will kindly share our heart. We will simply ask them.  “Come and see.”

 

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