Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday word, 30 Nov 14

Advent Living
First Sunday of Advent B (30 Nov 2014)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
As boy I thought Advent was all about Christmas. Before Christmas I noticed we let go the Gloria in Advent and that purple was prominent in church. I noticed we did both in Lent; so I thought Advent was a Lent-like preparation for Christmas—only shorter. From its early years the church in Rome never celebrated Advent as a shorter Lent. But early Christians in what today is mostly France did; and customs for Lent found a home in their Advent—and of later generations.

Customs have strong staying power. Advent customs and practices that echoed Lent confused later generations of Catholics into our times. Lent is about
decoration: underline;">doing: we involve ourselves with prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Advent is about disposition: we seek to deepen our attitude of hopeful expectation in both the Second Coming of Jesus in glory and in his abiding presence with us each moment. About his presence we desire to take Jesus at his word: I am with you always until the end of the age.1 His Second Coming will be his glorious presence when he will make human bodies glorious and people divine like him.

Each present moment for us Catholics looks both to the past and to the future. We are future oriented; it’s our culture. We think of our futures; we plan ahead. The future rests in questions we ask and our concerns. We ask youngsters, “What do you want to be? What do you see yourself doing?” When we are grown and have been working our concern becomes when we will retire and that we will have enough resources. Our culture is future oriented.

Mediterranean cultures orient people to the present. The future does not grip them like us. The Spanish word mañana and the Italian word domani literally mean tomorrow. We hear tomorrow and think of the next 24 hours. Mediterranean cultures mean that, too; but often tomorrow points to no number of hours but an unspecific future. Perry Como popularized a movie1 song: “Forget Domani.”2 Some of its lyrics make the point of its culture:
“Let’s forget about domani,For domani never comes!Tomorrow,Forget tomorrow,Let’s live for now….”
The lyrics echo Jesus’ words to those of his culture: do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious about itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.3 The culture of the disciples gave them ears to hear that message of Jesus. The present-oriented disciples also needed Jesus’ reminder to be alert and ready for the future return of their Lord, the creator and redeemer of all things. Isaiah, like other prophets, had already sounded that. His message to us today contained return, come, meet us doing right; the Psalmist also pleaded, come…save us.

We future-oriented friends of Jesus need an alert, ready, watchful, hopeful disposition. Why? To match the faith we profess: Jesus will come again in glory.4 Advent is our opportunity to renew our Christian disposition with the en-tire church. Advent focuses us on the present and the future more than the past. About the future we are to welcome the return of One we know, love and serve. Given our anxious concern for the future, we may need to join to our Advent disposition Jesus’ wisdom do not be anxious about tomorrow. Anxiety is static in our souls; it does not help us expect the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ or announce his presence and his return in glory with our lives.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Pause in the company of our triune God who creates and redeems us each moment.
  • Ask Mary and the saints to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for dying and rising for you; thank him for accompanying you even when you are unaware of him.
  • Ask Jesus to grace you with a calm spirit and an alert, ready, watchful, hopeful disposition. in the company of our triune God giving you new birth each moment.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, thy kingdom come, are not about a place but God’s very life. God’s life is not distant; Jesus said, the kingdom of God is within you.5 Advent helps us live the truth of his words.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise


  1. The Yellow Rolls Royce” (1964)
  2. Its lyrics may be found at Metro Lyrics.
  3. Matthew 6.34.
  4. From the Nicene Creed.
  5. Luke 17.21.
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