Sunday, November 27, 2016

1st Sunday of Advent

Veni, Veni Emmanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!

O come o come Emmanuel! 
And ransom captive Israel!

The first day of Advent is the first day of a new Church year.  Advent begins without fanfare on the first of the four Sundays before December 24th.  Advent ends with the joyous commemoration of Jesus’ birth.  Advent ends with the commemoration of Jesus’ flesh and blood arrival in this world.  Advent ends with the commemoration that Jesus, fully Divine and fully human, was born into and lived on this planet, this same place where we now live and breathe, study and work, celebrate and mourn.  The name advent comes from the Latin roots ad and venire which mean “to come to.”  But that simple translation does not convey what Advent means. 

Pope Benedict XVI explained that advent is the translation of the Greek word parousia which means presence, but even more specifically means arrival.  Arrival is the beginning of another’s presence, it is not the fullness of that presence. Think about it.  Arrival is the beginning of another’s presence, it is not the fullness of that presence. The birth of a baby is only the beginning of a presence that will permanently change and shape a family.

Presence is never complete, it is always a becoming.  Presence is never complete, it is always changing and evolving.  And  presence never ends even when the other has died or is absent.  Even now we are being influenced by the presence of others who are distant or dead.  Parents.  Teachers.  Mentors.  Friends.  And others.  Their presence influences how we live our lives.  The memory of their presence may determine what we decide and how we act.  Their presence in our lives may soothe and comfort us during times of stress.  And sometimes that presence may be the source of continuing anxiety and pain.  There is one thing we must never forget.  It is impossible not to respond to another’s presence.  Even “ignoring” another’s presence is a specific way of responding to it.

Jesus’ presence is an advent presence.  Jesus' presence is always a “coming to,” it is always a "coming toward." It is always dynamic.  During advent we recall that Jesus is both present in this world and is always becoming newly present to this world and in our lives. During advent we become more aware that Jesus is present in this place.  But, it is only the beginning of that presence. It is not the fullness of His presence. The fullness of Jesus' presence will only be known when each of us passes from life into eternal life. 

Jesus’ presence in our lives is a triple presence.  We only have to look around this space, we only have to listen, we only have to taste, to experience that triple presence. Jesus is present in the community of believers when the Church prays as one, most particularly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  Jesus is present in the words of the Gospel when it is proclaimed in the assembly of believers.  And, Jesus is present most tangibly, Jesus is truly and substantially present, in the Eucharist, the bread and wine, which will soon be consecrated, broken, and shared.  

Advent is not the time to prepare for a holiday.  Advent  is the time of preparation for a Holy Day. We are preparing to commemorate the birth of the Messiah.  We are awaiting the anointed one.  We are scanning the horizon for the star that announces the approach of the Son of God, Son of David, and Son of Mary. We are awaiting the King of Kings and the Prince of Peace, the One who is like us in all things but sin.

As we begin Advent we recall that Jesus came toward and into this world to save it and to ransom us from sin and death. 

Veni, Veni Emmanuel!
Captivum solve Israel!

Sometimes it is a luxury to address the feast or celebration rather than amplifying the readings.  The first Sunday is one of those days.  Having some fairly nice weather.  The rain finally stopped. Went into the center to take photos of the lights. Will post next week as I've yet to download on the computer.  

Spent much too much time yesterday watching college football.  And yes, I watched the Penn State game.  Until 1 AM.  And, pray tell, who could fall asleep after that.  Yes I am dragging.  Going to call it a night very soon (is approaching 10 PM here).  

Posted some photos of Penn State in honor of the superb season.  The alumni association allotment of tickets for the game in Indianapolis next week sold out in 15 minutes!  Didn't try.  Too far from Ljubljana.   So these are some of them

Studying in the stacks at Pattee Library on a Saturday night.  

The stacks at Pattee on a Saturday night.

The tchotchke shop at the HUB Bookstore decorated for Christmas. 

Part of the mall in the autumn.

Looking from the bridge between two life sciences buildings toward downtown.

The HUB, Hetzel Union Building, on a Saturday night.  It didn't look anything like this back in 1968-1971.

Art student carrying her painting of the new Creamery toward the new Creamery so as to finish it.

Eisenhower Chapel.  How I yearn to officiate at wedding in here some day.

 +Fr. Jack, SJ, MD

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