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November 27, 1992     The Message
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ii! ? ovember 27, 1992 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 Commentary d DO By/LA DTHI[RE g ---'---J II GOspel Commentary for Sunday, Nov. 29, 1992. First Sunday of Advent, Cycle A: Matthew z4i37.44. Today we begin the season of Advent. The Word is derived from the Latin word "adventus" raeaning "coming, arrival." During this four-week season the Church nrenares for the anniversary of the " 1:- t- -1 birth of Jesus and anticipates his return in g ory at the end of time Not only does Advent ob- Servance concern itself with past arrival and fu- ture return but it also celebrates the present, Jesus' ,-,-- e-esence with us in word (theBible) and in Sacrament (the Eucharist}. c._. The beginnings of Advent go back to early atUnes of Christianity. Advent was first con- ec!ed with the feast of Epiphany rather than warlst,mas. The reason was simply that Epiphany as a baptismal feast, i.e., a day on which cate- Uraens were baptized. Advent was the time of P eparation for Baptism as Lent is today. Such Was the practice first in France, then Spain, then England. fe At Rome, Epiphanv was never a Baptismal ast, so there was never a need of a season of POparation for Baptism. It was not until the sixth Cit, u.ry that we find a season of preparation for rstmas. The emphasis was not on penitential Practices as in France, but a lituruical exoectation of the anniversary of Jesus' birth.Because of its oPem tential practices the French celebration had ,-'.Paasized the return of lesus in olorv as final :ge at the end of time. Vhen theFrench and ,_,,an celebrations merged in the tenth century, utn aspects, the Past (lesus' birth) and the future uSUs re - " " " turn} were maintained in the liturgmal The season of advent: Anniversary a ad judgment day prayers. At the same time it must be remembered that because Advent is a liturgical celebration, it mediates God's grace to us in the present. Thus we have three aspects of Advent, past, present, future. The gospel chosen for this day is part of Jesus' final sermon in the Gospel of Matthew. By choosing this gospel the Church emphasizes the future aspect of Advent, the return of Jesus in glory as final judge. The uncertainty of the time of the end seems to be the point. The gospel be- gins with a reference to Noah. Life went on as usual, eating, drinking, marrying. Then suddenly Noah gets sent into the ark and the flood sweeps away everything else. This is how unexpectedly lesus will return, so says Matthew. He adds two brief comparisons. Two men will be in a field (Luke writes "two men in one bed!"). One will be taken, the other left behind; two women grinding flour, one will be taken, the other left behind. One sees here the idea of "the rapture," the idea of being snatched up to meet Jesus "in the air," as Paul writes. Those not snatched up will remain behind to be destroyed in the awesome natural destruction that follows the rapture. Like any homilist, after Matthew has stated the thesis, he now follows it with advice: "Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." He adds a brief parable. Home- owners never know when a thief might break into a house. If they did, they would watch. So it is with the final judgment. No one knows when Jesus will return. Therefore, we must be ready at all times just as the homeowner at all times guards against thieves breaking in. We may squirm a bit at having the return of Jesus corn- ii SINCE 1888 Schum Monuments, Inc. DALE, INDIANA 937-4921 "A family name you can trust" Washington Auto Trim 27 Years Service Miller & Miller NOW AVAILAI00L| 1993 Yearbook of the Catholic Dic,,:ese of Evansville $7.50 if picked-up at Cat[00qglic Center. $9.00 if mailed. Order yours today. Call 424-5536, or write to The Message, P.O. Box 4169, Evansville, IN 47724-0169 I II I Ill I II pared to a burglary, but this comparison was quite common in New Testament literature. Paul uses the same comparison in I Thessalonians. It is found also in the Second Letter of Peter and in the Book of Revelation where Jesus says: "I am coming like a thief. Blessed are those who are awake, keeping their clothes nearby, that they may not go naked and be seen exposed." The warning based on the example of Noah is also used widely in the New Testament. It is found in Hebrews 11:7 and in both letters of Peter. Paul does not mention the example of Noah and the suddenness of the flood but he does advise people to remain unmarried "in view of the present distress., for the form of this world is passing away." Like the author of the Gospel of Mark, Paulwas convinced that the end was at hand and that he would live to see it. As time passed and the end did not come, and as Christians began to merge and even to dominate the society to which they were at first aliens, interest in and longing for the end and the return of Jesus began to wane. Most Chris- tians seem quite content to remain here and con- tent to have the world endure for a long time to come. If we find ourselves with this same atti- tude, the gospel today can still remind us that each one of us must face Jesus as judge, if not at the end of time, then at the end of our own time. For this reason Matthew's warning is current: "Watch, for you do not know what day your Lord is coming!" Other readings for Sunday, Nov. 29: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14. COME INSURANCE SERVICE Auto.t Home.t Fire & Life! i Your Personal Service Agent l ; James L. Will Ins. Agency Inc. i '1925 W Franklin Street 425-3187 I i illi * i ii i ii i AUTO TOPS. SEAT COVERS. BOAT COVERS STEREO SALES & INSTALLATIONS 254-3943 i II AUTO RATES INCREASING? TEENAGE DRIVERS? 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