First Sunday of Advent

“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13: 32).

On this first Sunday of Advent, Mark reminds us to be prepared for Christ’s return. Therefore, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33).

The next 25 days of Advent are an opportunity to reflect on what we are doing to stay watchful:  “Behold, I am coming soon. I will bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds” (Revelation 22:12). What is our relationship with God? Are our thoughts, actions, and words inviting Jesus to come into our lives? (cf. Rev 22:20) How are we loving God and our neighbors? (cf. Luke 10:27) Are we aware of our shortcomings? What steps are we taking to improve our faith, hope, and love? (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:13) Have we served others with corporal and spiritual works of mercy?

Advent is a chance to ask God with hopeful hearts: “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved” (Psalm 80:4). With the armor of God’s grace, we can draw strength from the Lord and stand firm against the darkness and evil of the world      (cf. Ephesians 6: 10-13).

We ought to rejoice during the Advent season with Paul’s words to the Corinthians in the second reading:

“…for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as 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” (1 Corinthians 1:4-7).

On Christmas Day, we celebrate our Savior’s first coming, his Nativity, and his Incarnation. A joyful occasion indeed, but one gravely incomplete if we fail to reflect on the meaning of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

This Advent season, let us ponder our watchfulness. Let us keep in mind Isaiah’s words: “You, LORD, are our father, our redeemer…we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hands” (Isaiah 63:16; 64:7).

– God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.

Intentionally or Ignorantly

God is an ever present light in the world. The only way to avoid God’s presence is by intention or ignorance. God is merciful to the latter, but unforgiving to the former because “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more” (Luke 12:48).

As Christians, God granted us his Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, to fill our hearts with life, joy, and goodwill so that we would be free from death, despair, and evil. Through his Son, he demanded that “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). In addition, he demanded that we “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

God’s commands are clear as the clearest water. It is our obligation to intentionally – guided by the Holy Spirit – do all three with fortitude, even if at times we fall short. For through us is how God shines his light on the unaware so they too can be entrusted with the Word.

God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you

Have a blessed day!!!

Which is the first of all the commandments?

“Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 28b:30)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us our roadmap to salvation. His teaching is not new (see Deut 6:4-5 and Lev 18:18) but as son of God, he once and for all confirms the most important commandments. There should be no doubt in our minds of what we must do for Christ to live in us.

There are three virtues that are related directly from God: Faith, Hope, and Love. These gifts, which we acquire beginning with baptism, are the foundation of our Christian moral life. As Paul so beautifully expresses in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, “the greatest of these is love.” That is today’s Gospel message: Love God; Love your neighbor.

Let’s pray this day that we continue to grow in love for God and each other:

“O Lord God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. Amen (Act of Love)

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

The Question about Man’s Resurrection

“At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.”

In yesterday’s Gospel (Mark 12:13-17) the Pharisees tried to entrap Jesus by asking him his opinion about paying taxes. In today’s Gospel (Mark 12:18-27), the Sadducees try their luck by coming to Jesus to disprove the resurrection. Again, Jesus proves to be wiser than his enemies by saying,”For when they rise from dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Life as we know it will be no more; thus our humanity will be transformed in divine terms.

Jesus goes on to correct the statement “the dead being raised” by explaining that his Father “is not God of the dead, but of the living”. As children of God, we are always alive; we are the light of the world.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is his gift to humanity so we can become like angels after we expire; to leave our humanity behind and become ever living children of God.  It is God’s mercy toward us. Let’s rejoice.

“No follower of mine wanders in the dark; he shall have the light of life” ~ (John 8:12)

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.