Saturday, December 1, 2012

First Sunday of Advent  -  2013
December 2, 2012

There is no doubt that most adults who attend a church service this weekend experience a mixed bag of emotions.  First, at least for me, there is this thought:  what happened to this year?  Second, again at least for me,  I ask myself what did I accomplish in the last 11 months?  Lastly, all of us ask ourselves these two related questions: (a) How am I going to handle the next four weeks with all of its demanding pressures? and (b) Is it possible in all that "Christmas" demands of us to find some peace and quiet time to enjoy the spiritual graces that abound in the season of Advent?

The scripture readings today draw attention to both a beginning and an end:  the beginning of something (Someone) new and the end of all that we consider our lifetimes.  We have to admit that on the surface combining this start up and then its ending are different and perhaps difficult.  We we should not fail to perceive in this dual presentation is what can bring us the peace and joy that we would like Advent to be for us.  What is it?  It is the time between beginning and end.  It is the journey that each of us makes.  For some it might be 100 years.  For others it could be 90 or 75 or 62.  For some others it could be fewer years even months.  We just do not know when our bodies will arrive at a point when it can no longer carry us forward.  It is a time when, as we say, God calls us to face our eternity.

So, during these four weeks of Advent, this short period of time leading up to the event that marks a very special beginning for Christians, we have the opportunity to consider the signals, the road signs that life and the will of God have put before us.  This is possible because each of us is, you might say, somewhere along the way between the beginning and the end.  As we prepare to celebrate another Christmas, our preliminary Advent should be a time when we ask ourselves if we are prepared at this very moment to jump from our beginning time to the end time.  Have I taken notice of those signals God has given me along the journey of my life?  If not, then, am I willing to listen more carefully to what He is suggesting to me through the coming of His Son, Jesus Christ ... not just for the first time but through the many Christmases I have celebrated each with its own Advent prep time?

Therefore, the season of Advent is a unique moment at both the beginning and the end for us to face the reality of our lives:  how have I lived out thus far the mission that God has entrusted to me since the day of my beginning?  If we face this question honestly, there is no doubt that we will not discover that Advent is indeed a very short space of time because we may very well have discovered what it is that God wants of me.  That discovery will become the most wonderful Christmas gift in one's lifetime.

~~  Rest in the Peace of Jesus ~~

Please remember in your prayers a classmate of mine who has recently confronted earthly endings.  Father Jerry Fitzpatrick, SJ,  Philadelphia native, brother of Fr. Ed Fitzpatrick, who died.  Jerry and I taught at The Bishop's Latin School for a time.  After ordination Jerry served many years at the Jesuit mission in Osorno, Chile, South America.  He returned to the USA and did retreat work in New Jersey as well as at the Jesuit Loyola Retreat House located in the Archdiocese of Washington, Falkner, MD.  Jerry was a extraordinary.  May he now rest in peace, fully knowing his own ending which has become his new beginning with the Lord Jesus and St. Ignatius.