Happy Advent! Let us use this time to prepare well for the coming of the Lord.
In today’s reading from Romans (13:11-14) we read:
You know the time;Rom 13:11-12
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.
We have been awaiting the Second Coming ever since the culmination of the First Coming (see Acts 1:11). This is why we speak of Advent recalling the first Christmas, deepening our appreciation of Jesus in our midst (in the Eucharist — “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord” as our Responsorial Psalm  exclaims), and anticipating the Lord’s return at the end of time.
But, in particular, I wish to draw attention to the last line of the reading:
[P]ut on the Lord Jesus Christ,Rom 13:14
and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
I have spent the year reading Divine Intimacy. Drawing heavily on Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, the frequent theme of the daily reflections is detachment. Draw near Jesus; put Him first. Let the dross of attachment to worldly things, even objectively good things, fall away (or be torn away — painful, but necessary) in order to make oneself fully available to the will of God. The Imitation of Christ draws often on the same sentiment, as do so many classic spiritual works. How much these writers must have contemplated the words of Paul we read today. How much we should contemplate these words, as well. When the hustle and bustle of the season causes us consternation, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” And when we begin to lose inner peace, know that God can provide it, just as He promised, through His prophet Isaiah (2:1-5), to bring peace on our troubled earth — a peace we can easily despair of ever occurring with any knowledge of history or current affairs:
They shall beat their swords into plowsharesIs 2:4
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
How is this peace to be achieved?
[L]et us walk in the light of the Lord!Is 2:5
Yes, enlightened by the Lord, the God of truth, we may not change the world, but we will find “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Phil 2:7), thus giving an example that will attract all those we encounter who wish to know how we achieved it.
Last, but not least, Jesus concludes today’s Gospel passage (Mt 24:37-44) with these wise words:
[Y]ou…must be prepared,Mt 24:44
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
I will never forget a talk in which the priest dismissed being overly concerned about the coming end of time but strongly reminded his listeners that the end of our time in this life is certain. I pray that that inevitability will not catch me unawares, but it doesn’t become an issue if we wake up each day as if it were our last being mindful that “human beings die once, and after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). Easy to say until the troubles of the day and our own concupiscence and bad habits butt in — vigilance is required with the necessary assistance of grace.
Let us prepare well for the Eternal Word’s coming in the past, present, and future.
BP BARRON’S SUNDAY SERMON
Advent Playlist (save the Christmas music until 12/25)
Letters from Home daily reflections
BOOKS FOR THE NEW (LITURGICAL) YEAR
I’m excited about a couple of books I’ve added to my daily/weekly reading as we begin the new liturgical year.
I make it a point to read Scripture daily. Because we started Year A today in the lectionary, I will be reading verses and commentary from Matthew each day of the year. A deep dive into the tax collector turned evangelist.
I am kicking it off with The Gospel of Matthew by Mitch and Sri from the splendid Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series. I have two other commentaries I’m looking forward to getting into when I work through this one.
In addition, I have begun the final volume of John Bergsma’s The Word of the Lord series for Year A. This will also carry me through most Sunday’s of the year (I just purchased the Solemnities and Feasts volume to make sure I cover all those as well). I love his teaching style and his books. It promises to be a spiritually fruitful Church year.
The Light of the World (1851-1854) by William Holman Hunt