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Father Muench Says...

From the ordinary to the days of Advent

Nov. 29, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

These last weeks of November into the weeks of December are very unique in our Catholic spirituality.  This time is the completion of the Catholic Liturgical year, proceeding into the new Liturgical year that is Advent – our preparation for Christmas.

The Gospel theme of these weeks is central and an important part of our Catholic faith: that is death leading to new life, a new resurrection.

The theme appears often in our liturgy and teachings, especially at Holy and Easter.  In those feasts, we celebrate the death of Jesus and his rising to new life, his resurrection.

As we close this Liturgical year, we are led to a deeper faith in our Lord that leads us to recognize our own mortality. And Jesus promises that we will then find our own resurrection to new life with God in Heaven.  We have faith that Jesus died – as we all must – and we believe that Jesus promised us that we will experience a resurrection like his.

The Church chooses Scriptures for Masses during these weeks as we end this Liturgical year to remind us of this passage from death to resurrection.  And so we are led to Advent, a time to prepare ourselves for Christmas, the Birth of Jesus, a time of new life for us all as the Lord becomes one of us.  At Christmas, Jesus comes to our world to bring us joy, peace and the love of God.

The message of these Gospel readings is to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord.  We will one day meet the Lord face to face – we all must.  During Advent, we are called to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord to prepare ourselves for the Birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Prepare yourselves to celebrate Christmas.

So, how to prepare ourselves?  I believe our best preparation is by establishing a good relationship with Jesus – right now.  I am certain that Jesus wishes to be part of our lives each and every day that is ours. 

We are taught by the Gospels that Jesus wants to be part of our lives, to walk with us, to guide us, to love us, to forgive us.  However, we must open our heart to the Lord; we must be ready to listen, to hear the Word of the Lord and to recognize God’s message to us at prayer and at Mass.  We must be ready to follow his guidance as Jesus brings opportunities to do well, to love well, to act in the Spirit of our God into our lives.

In addition, just before Advent – the Church dedicates a Sunday for the celebration of the feast of Christ the King.  In this feast, the Church reminds us that we will find peace when we allow Jesus to be our King.  The Feast  is our opportunity in faith to make our personal dedication in love to make Jesus our King, that our King may lead and guide us.

Our King leads us in love. That love is affirmed for us when we recognize that our King was nailed for us on a cross.  Our King has a cross for a throne.  He died for us.

So, this spirituality is a focus of our life as a Christian.  Each one of us, followers of Jesus, longs for a good relationship with our Lord.  However, I know that often in my journey of life there are times when I have drifted far from my Lord.  My friendship with Jesus has been interrupted by serious failings, by sins.  There is no doubt – there is no other way to put it – I will solve this situation only when I put these failings, these sins to death. 

God will forgive me but I must eradicate all that keeps me from living like a disciple of the Lord.  I must put them to death.  For you see, it is only then that I will find a new life, that this will be a time of new life, of resurrection.  Then I will find the happiness of a close relationship with my Lord.  There it is – death to resurrection – my passage to new life – a new friendship with Jesus.

So, now Advent – the Scriptures will tell us to “Prepare ourselves.”  Get yourselves ready for the happiness of another Christmas.  Again, the only preparation that will matter is a good relationship with Jesus – now – today.  This will bring us to the happiness of Christmas with family and with ourselves.

So let us be grateful to God for the birth of Jesus.  Jesus changed our world by becoming one of us.  Jesus longs to bring his love and friendship to each one of us.

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