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First Sunday of Advent — Nov. 27, 2022

Bishop’s Reflections

November 27, 2022

Every Sunday, Bishop Edward Malesic writes a Scripture reflection for the faithful. Follow the bishop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click HERE for the readings.

We are back to the beginning again! Yes, we start a new liturgical year today. We move from the readings of cycle C from the last twelve months, which focused our attention on the Gospel of Luke, to the readings of cycle A, where we will read mostly from the Gospel of Matthew, as we do today.

The Gospel of Matthew is written to a mostly Jewish Christian Church. The genealogy of Matthew’s first chapter makes it clear that Jesus is a descendant of the Jewish patriarchs and the great Israelite King David, from whom would come the Messiah. However, Matthew makes it clear that Jesus, although essentially Jewish, had come to save the entire world, including those of Gentile origin (most of us).

The Gospel of Matthew has a special emphasis on evangelization, recording the final words of Jesus, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (28:19). It has also been called “the catechists’ Gospel” because it is filled with imagery and parables that are capable of passing on the essential truths of Christian life and belief (the Sermon on the Mount, teachings on humility and discipleship, the Kingdom of God, prayer, leadership and service, marriage, keeping the commandments, etc.). May we have ears to hear what the Lord wants to tell us as we make our way through Matthew’s account of the Good News of Jesus Christ over the next twelve months.

In today’s Gospel reading, the Church turns our attention to the end times. How odd. We don’t start with the annunciation and the birth of Jesus; we begin by reflecting on his return at the end of time. While much of our society is singing Christmas carols, we sing Maranatha, Come O Lord, but, this is necessary. For us to grasp the meaning of the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, it helps to focus on what is most important to us and reflecting on the end of time helps us to do that. When we realize that our time is limited on earth, that we all have an expiration date, it helps to put things in perspective. It is like the question: “If your house were on fire, what would you take with you?” If we are coming to an end, who is most important? The answer: Jesus. Only Jesus will draw us from this life to the next life. That is why we call him “Savior.” So, the Church gives us a Gospel where Jesus talks about his second coming. It is up to us to realize just how important it is that God sent us the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

So, in the Gospel for this First Sunday of Advent, Jesus talks about the flood of Noah. Only a few were saved. Those who listened to his warning and found refuge in the ark, floated away to safety. Jesus talks about two men in the field. Only one is taken to Heaven. The other is left behind.

If want to survive this life, then Jesus is the answer. We give our lives and trust to him. Jesus says, “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). This is why Jesus comes to us, after all: to establish God’s Kingdom on earth and lead us to God’s Kingdom in Heaven. And that truth makes us able to celebrate the coming celebration of Christmas with greater intensity. If we know that we depend on Jesus for all things, including justice and peace on this earth, and even Heaven itself, if we begin to understand that Jesus comes to bring the forgiveness we long for, the peace we desire, the unity with God we seek, then his coming into our world has made all the difference for us. Christmas, then, is celebrated with a joy that comes from the depths of our being. So, we begin by focusing on the end of our lives, so that we can celebrate the beginning of Christ’s life on earth with greater devotion. We begin by turning our attention to what we all need in the end: the God Jesus came to proclaim. A God who is able to save us and, in fact, desires to save us.

Have a blessed week everyone.

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