Homily: First Sunday of Advent 2020

HAPPY New Year! You heard me right. Happy New Year! Today is the first day of our new liturgical calendar year. As you probably noticed by the purple cloth on the tabernacle, our purple vestments, and the Advent wreath, today we mark the first season of the liturgical year, Advent. Advent is a special time of joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

LET me ask you, when you receive guests at home, do you spend time cleaning and putting your house in order? How do you prepare for the visit? A pleasant visit does not happen by accident, right?. It takes organizing and preparation.

ADVENT is a time for getting our spiritual home in order to receive the Lord. Just like the homes we live in, our spiritual lives sometimes get unorganized and filled with clutter. Advent and the new liturgical year allow us to look around our spiritual home and notice what needs to be cleared out and ready our soul to welcome God. All of us, regardless of the state of our spirituality, have the opportunity to do that. How? Through acts of reflection and repentance. We can find examples of these acts in the readings we heard today. For instance, in the First Reading, we hear the Israelites say to God: “Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our deeds are like polluted rags.”[1] Their words show that they took the time to reflect on the purity of their souls. In the responsorial psalm, we hear about repentance: “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.”[2] Advent is an excellent occasion to experience the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It is God’s gift of healing and restoration. I realize that for some, Confession may not be an easy thing to do. I get it.  If you are in that place, I pray that God shows you the light to guide you closer to Him.  He wants to purify our cluttered hearts, but we must do our part. During Advent, can you set aside time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation? To reflect on the purity of your soul? Is it clean or filled with cluttered? Is it ready to welcome God?

AS essential as organizing one’s soul is, any good host knows that hosting is more than cleaning; it requires preparation. And so it is as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus.[3] In today’s second reading, St. Paul gives us a hint on how to prepare. He told the Corinthians: “the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[4] Paul is encouraging us to prepare for the coming of Jesus by cultivating the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What are the gifts? Understanding, Knowledge, Wisdom, Fear of the Lord, Good Counsel, Piety, and Fortitude. Perhaps this Advent Season, you could focus on cultivating one gift in preparation to receive God’s revelation.  Maybe you can prepare for Advent by developing the gift of Fortitude.  Fortitude enables us to stand firm when faced with suffering.[5] The last nine months have been difficult. It could be easy to develop a pessimistic view of the world and a hopeless image of God. The gift of Fortitude may help us create a more resilient attitude toward life and a more faithful outlook of God. It is a gift that could help us to organize and prepare our hearts to receive God.

ADVENT is a time to be watchful. When I served in the United States Army, I performed guard duty. One of my routines before performing my guard duty was to recite the three general orders that governed it. Among them was this order: “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.”[6] That order was like an anchor that held me from drifting away from my responsibility to guard my post.

BY way of our baptism, we are all on spiritual guard duty. We are on the lookout for the unexpected encounter with Jesus, who tells us today: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” As guards in His kingdom here on earth, we too have general orders: the commandments. The next four weeks are an opportunity to live them, meditate on them, memorize them. I encourage you to choose one commandment and to focus on it throughout Advent. For example, the first commandment: “I am the Lord your God, you shall not have any strange gods before me.” Are there any gods in your life preventing you from being watchful? Social media? Sports? Materialism? Take time this Advent to reflect on that.

ADVENT is a journey meant to be filled with joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take it, enjoy it, own it. Also, persevere. There are times when a journey can be costly, lonely, and challenging. The good news is that you are not alone. Jesus is here for you, in the Eucharist. Receive the Eucharist to nourish your soul. The Eucharist will help you organize your soul, prepare youself, and give you the strength to remain watchful this Advent. I wish you a happy Advent.

LET us pray:

“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we rejoice in the hope of the Savior’s coming and look forward with longing to his return at the end of time. Prepare our hearts. Remove any sadness, doubt, or anxiety that may hinder us from feeling the joy and hope which Jesus’ presence will bestow, for he is Lord forever and ever.” Amen.

St. Michael the Archangel, first champion of the Kingship of Christ, pray for us.


[1] Is 63:4-5

[2] Ps 80:4

[3] https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year-and-calendar

[4] 1 Cor 1:6-7

[5] Disciples of Christ, Education in Virtue, Educator’s Guide Sister John Dominic Rasmussen, O.P. and Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. 2013

[6] www.Armypubs.army.mil

The Baptism of the LORD

Readings

Reading 1 IS 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm IS 12:2-3, 4BCD, 5-6
Reading 2 1 JN 5:1-9
Alleluia CF. MK 9:7
Gospel MK 1:7-11

Through water and the Spirit came God’s revelation; through Christ’s blood came our salvation. Christ’s ministry was possible through the former. Men’s redemption through the latter. God announced it through his prophets and the Spirit testified of it.

“This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by the water and blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth. So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and the three are of one accord” (1 JN 5:6-8).

Through Jesus’ baptism, God revealed his relationship with the Son and Spirit. This Trinitarian relationship gave Christ his strength and wisdom to minister and endure suffering. This same Trinity has been bestowed to us through baptism to live out our ministry and encounter tribulations.

Jesus’ obedience flamed his father’s love: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (MK 1:11). Our obedience, too, can lead us to fulfill our baptism “You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation” (IS 12:3) if we believe in Jesus as his father instructed us “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him” (1 JN 5:1).

All who are thirst for the LORD can come to the waters of baptism. (cf. IS 55:1)

The Thirst for the Holy Spirit

Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit)

I am always thirsting for the Holy Spirit. It is an indelible thirst born at Baptism. I feel this thirst becoming stronger as Pentecost approaches. The Holy Spirit is the truth that Christ gifted us: “I have much to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:12-13)

It is through the Holy Spirit that our hearts are purified and we remain in God: “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.” (Psalm 51:12-13) Moreover, it is by living through the Holy Spirit that we can say “Jesus is Lord.” (1 Corinthians 12:3);

If you thirst like I do, consider honoring the Holy Spirit in the next 9 days with the Novena of the Holy Spirit. This Novena is an opportunity to seek God’s gifts of grace:

The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:2-3).

Have a blessed day!!!

Infant Baptism and Original Sin Explained

While doing research on the Sacrament of Baptism, I came across this audio by John Martignoni on the Catholic Church’s teaching on infant baptism. It is 44 minutes long, but I found it to be educational. If you know of any parents or godparents preparing for a Catholic baptism or if you want a refresher on this sacrament, I recommend you listen to this audio. BTW, get out your bible…