Mr sisters and brothers in the Lord.
“Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!” This can be our theme all through Advent: to walk in the light of the Lord. Far too often we walk only by our own light and that is why we stumble and fall. The Prophet Isaiah sees this incredible vision that he describes to us today in the first reading: All nations come streaming to God! More than that, Isaiah tells us: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they’train for war again.”
As we look at our world today, none of this seems to be happening. Instead there seems always to be more warfare and more threats of one nation against another. Yet in this time of Advent, we can all set our hearts before the Lord, asking for this vision of Isiah to come true.
The second reading today is from the Letter to the Romans. This time it is not a vision, but an invitation: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. “ This letter sets this invitation once more in the process of moving from the darkness of our sins into the light of God’s love. We should not think of the desires of the flesh as only sexual desires. but at any desire that we have that moves us away from loving God and serving all of the people who come into our lives. These people are all God’s people and we can only prove our love for God by loving His people, not matter how difficult that is at times.
The Gospel of Matthew today tells us that the end of our lives will come when we do not expect it. The end of the world will come when we are not waiting for it. The only solution is to be always watchful and to know that my life can end right this instant and the world could also end. When we take for granted that we will on living and put no attention to the fact that we could die, then we often lose the focus of our lives and begin to live as if there were no God at all.
Today, many people no longer believe. Today even many Christians no longer believe that Jesus is truly God. Instead Jesus has become just a “good teacher” and is nothing more. In this time of Advent this year, we can seek to deepen or faith in the living God, our faith in Jesus as true God and true and, and our faith in the Catholic Church as the living presence of God in our world.
Advent is waiting for the Lord. Advent is not empty waiting. Rather Advent is a time to renew our faith in this God who loves us so much that He sends us His Son in our humanity so that we can share in God’s divinity. God sends us His Spirit to deepen our faith in these great mysteries but this can only happen when our hearts are open to the Lord!
Your brother in the Lord, Abbot Philip
My sisters and brothers,
Christ the King! So many of us no longer have any sense of what it means to have a king over us, a ruler who makes all of the important decisions, a ruler who truly cares of us and seeks the good of the people. The readings today are based on an understanding of kingship that no longer exists in our world, for the most part.
Yet we are invited to consider how Christ is our King and how He comes into our lives as a king, but as a servant king. Jesus Christ is a king who seeks only our good and the good of all. Jesus is a king who guides us from humility, not from power. Jesus has all power and all might and all majesty, but willingly puts all of that aside to become one of us and to sacrifice His life for us.
The first reading today is from the Second Book of Samuel and recounts how David became King of Israel. David became king because the people wanted a king other than the God of Heaven. Nevertheless, the great God of Heaven allowed the people to have a king. David was truly a wonderful king, even in his sinfulness. What was most important was his love for the God of Heaven.
Our King is the God of Heaven and yet this great God of Heaven has come to us as a human, yet without sin. God humbles Himself to save us.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Colossians. This passage describes exactly how Jesus is King of all again by humbling Himself. This one phrase expresses the whole of the mystery: “For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him.” Jesus is all and yet allows Himself to be killed for us so that we might live. This is a king willing to give His life for His people.
The Gospel of Luke today gives us the account of the crucifixion of Jesus. This is true kingship: dying for the people. So many still do not recognize that leadership, kingship, can be expressed in humility. Power comes in weakness. The true leader dies for his people. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Your brother in the Lord, Abbot Philip
Clearly, we are invited to look at the end of the world today and to reflect on the reality that we shall all die one day. We will die. There is no way around it. And the world will end. There is no way around it. When these events will happen, we do not know. We do know that most likely our own death will happen before the end of the world happens!
The Prophet Malachi speaks about the destruction of all that is not of God. You and I will need purification in order to live completely with God. The challenge for us is to accept purification and allow the Lord to burn away in us all that does not help us to do His will. That sounds so easy and yet we know in daily life that doing the will of God is something that we must work at.
You and I must go through purification in this life because we are seeking to serve the Lord. The more purification that we go through here, the less is needed after death. In neither case should be fear such purification. Purification is a result of loving God and allowing God to take away all that impedes this love. Even in purgatory, according to Saint Catherine of Genoa, the persons there know only God’s love for them.
In this life, you and I need to know God’s love for us. It is in responding to that love that we will be purified.
The Second Letter to the Thessalonians urges us all to work. There is no sense thinking that the world will end and that we will die and therefore there is no need to work any longer. The end is here. From the point of view of the Gospel, this is just foolishness. No one knows the day or the hour. We do not know when we will die or when the world will end. We know that we will die and we know that the world will end. But no one except God knows the time.
The Gospel of Luke speaks about all of the signs of the end times. Those signs are present in every age. Perhaps they are stronger in one age more than another, but they are always present. The world is always ending! We know that in the early Church some people got fascinated by this and spent their lives thinking about the end. Even today some people do that. The Gospel wants us to focus on the love of Christ and on sharing that love with others. There is no reason to be spending our time thinking of the end in a non- productive way. If we think of the end of the world and it helps us give more love and care to others, that is very good. If we think of the end of the world and it helps us live more faithful our present life, that is also very good.
The Scriptures are given to us to lead to us know God, to love God and to love one another. Sisters and brothers, let us give our lives over to the Lord, in His service, sharing His love with one another.