FIRST READING Isaiah 2:1-5
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. 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. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
SECOND READING Romans 13:11-14
Brothers and sisters: You know the time; 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. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
GOSPEL Matthew 24:37-44
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
My 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 Prohet 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 Emeritus Philip