Sunday, December 01, 2013

Sunday word, 01 Dec 2013

Living the Kingdom
Advent Sunday 1 A (01 December 2013)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
As a liturgical year comes to a close it has us look at our final goal, the goal of history: time will end and the rule of God will come into its own. Salvation, that is life in God through Jesus by their Spirit will be complete. As Advent opens a new liturgical year its scriptures sound the same truth.

St. Paul’s urging to put on Christ suggests we live each day as if it were the final Advent. We live between two Advents: Jesus came in history to live, die and rise from death; Jesus will return in glory with salvation. Those who put on Christ our Messiah will gather to himself.

To put on Christ is an early church metaphor for baptism. The newly baptized went under the Easter water. When they came up they were anointed then clothed in a white linen garment. They were luminous in candlelight. They were charged to live in ways that kept themselves luminous, and we continue that today: Receive this baptismal garment and bring it unstained to the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that you may have ever-lasting life.1

To keep one’s baptismal life luminous means to live each day as saved, as united with Messiah Jesus and by the norm of the kingdom of God he announced. To live by the norm of the rule of God means not by the norm or standard of the world. The world’s standards are very enticing. Their allure is powerfully seductive and hypnotic. Not only are we charmed to live as though the world’s standard were normal, we are lulled into measuring by its standards.

Catastrophes and other tragedies jar us and we snap alert briefly. Systemic sufferings born of injustice and other insults to human dignity cause our heads to shake and to voice, perhaps only to ourselves, ‘That isn’t right. It should not be that way.’ And we are correct. Then, we turn away from the sufferings, injustices and other insults to human dignity. We return to living as if what is not right and just is! The world’s ways are enticing and hypnotic, indeed.

Not only are we correct in those moments; we begin to live our baptisms with clarity. To say that with other words: baptism allows us to live normally in an abnormal world. When we resist the world’s standards for those of our Messiah Jesus in whom we have been baptized, we are living alert. We are alert to what is normal. We allow God to instruct us in his ways [so] we may walk in his paths. We have our feet in Jerusalem. We awake to the the Son of Man with us.

The coming of the Son of Man: the words of St. Paul and the words of Jesus are not to be read as train schedules; nor are we to read them as if knowledge of them absolves us from working to secure great justice, peace and harmony for other and with others. We are to grow to feel the mercy of our triune God gives us the daily gift to live the risen life of Jesus through our bodies, hearts and actions and sufferings. Not only individually but corporately, as the body of Messiah Jesus, his church.

The one way we would prefer not to experience doing that is suffering. Yet Jesus suffered to death before he rose. As members of his body we ought not expect any different. Jesus even warned us we would suffer for being his. His warning was one of his blessings: Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.2 

To live our baptisms includes to accept the  Christian perspective: the world is abnormal; Christian living is normal. To admit that does not denigrate nor negate the goodness of created things. Instead, it admits that creation has been warped and needs to be saved. Saving is not our doing, it is God’s gracious doing. Baptism begins the process of God saving us in Jesus by their Spirit. To live as baptized means to live each day as if we were welcomed home. It means to welcome others in the ways Jesus has already welcomed us.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause to feel our triune God embracing you with life-giving love.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise Jesus for dying and rising for you; thank him for uniting himself to you in baptism and sustaining your baptism with the eucharist and the other sacraments.
  • Ask him for grace to live his life in you as normal and to live it for the sake of the world.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, forgive as we forgive, challenge us when we say them. Yet they remind us daily what is normal, despite how the world tries to shape us. They give us courage to live as Jesus lived and died and rose for us.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

1. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 320.
2. Matthew 5.11-12.


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