CACINA

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 29, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: We enter a new liturgical year today on this first Sunday of Advent as we move into weeks of expectancy and hope before our celebration of the birth of the Lord. In ancient eastern Christianity, the Epiphany was many holidays rolled into one: yes, certainly, the visit of the Magi, but the Church also celebrated at the Epiphany the birth of the Lord, his baptism, the wedding feast at Cana, and the Transfiguration. The Church celebrated on a single and very textured day all the ways the Lord surprises us and manifests his glory. In many churches of the East, catechumens received their baptism on the Feast of the Epiphany because of its connection to the Lord’s own baptism. During the weeks prior to their baptism, catechumens would pray, reflect, and fast in anticipation of their entry into the body of believers. It would seem then that what we begin today in Advent is the remnant of that practice. The Church prays, reflects, and fasts in these days because catechumens once did so before their baptism, but with the passage of time, the practice of baptizing on Epiphany withered away while the Church remembered the prayer, reflection, and fasting at this time of year and began to connect it to Christmas. But it’s no deep concern where the practice arose, because what the Church asks us to do in these weeks is to remember who we are as baptized persons and to renew in ourselves our baptismal promises. In other words, it is entirely appropriate that a season which probably began as a time of baptismal preparation should continue as a time of baptismal renewal.

The gospel passage today talks about the nature of our lives as baptized persons. It tells us to stand erect, that is, be people of integrity. It tells us to raise our heads, that is, be people of dignity and hope. It tells us to be vigilant, that is, be people who persevere. It tells us to pray, that is, be spiritual people who spend time talking with God each day. And it tells us to ask God that we may be strong, that is, it calls on us to rely on God’s own power.

Let us embrace our baptism today and all the days of Advent. Let us renew ourselves and prepare ourselves. Let us be open to the God of Surprises who will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves if only we open ourselves to it.

Spiritual reading: Every year we celebrate the holy season of Advent, O God. Every year we pray those beautiful prayers of longing and waiting, and sing those lovely songs of hope and promise. Every year we roll up all our needs and yearnings and faithful expectation into one word: “Come!” (The Divine Dawning, Karl Rahner, S.J.)

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