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.

Sancte Spiritus

On the Solemnity of Pentecost and the birthday of the Church, I honor the Holy Spirit by the words below. Thanks to Deacon Dan Lupo, co-director of Diaconal Formation for the Austin Diocese, for challenging me to write them.

Sancte Spiritus

An indelible mark you placed in my heart, Sancte Spiritus.

A patronage for a journey past the heavens of my nature, Sancte Spiritus.

A call to be your apostle, Sancte Spiritus.

A witness to the blind and the deaf in spirit, Sancte Spiritus

A voice for the voiceless and a healer for the suffering and sorrowful, Sancte Spiritus.

Redemption to the darned, Sancte Spiritus.

Shelter for the homeless, Sancte Spiritus

Companion for the lonely, Sancte Spiritus

Love for the poor, the abandoned and the marginalized, Sancte Spiritus,

Joy to the widow and the orphan, Sancte Spiritus

Peace to the restless and the worried, Sancte Spiritus

Yet, I asked you, am I worthy of this mark? You answered “imitate Paul”; Veni Sancte Spiritus.

What if I fail to affirm you? You answered “imitate Peter”; Veni Sancte Spiritus

I wondered, can I carry this burden? You said “imitate Christ”; Veni Sancte Spiritus.

I praise God for you, my Advocate, my Paraclete; Veni Sancte Spiritus

May I always rest under your wings, Veni Sancte Spiritus.

 

Have a blessed Pentecost Sunday!!!

By Word and Deed

“For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to lead the Gentiles to obedience by word and deed.” (Romans 15:18)

Today, Paul reminds us that we must evangelize both by word and deed. It is easy to evangelize people by word alone. It is easy to talk with people about what is right and what is wrong. Some evangelists are more eloquent than others and reach more people; some evangelists can write great books, articles, and blogs about God. Yet, the true evangelizer is one who performs his or her deeds along with what they preach; they “talk the talk and walk the walk.” As Paul reminds us today, there is not denying that Christ requires both ministries. Let’s keep this in our hearts as we go about living in Christ; not by word alone but also by deed.

May God bless you. Happy Friday!!!

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

Pray for Safe Return of Kidnapped Syrian Bishops

Let’s pray for the safe return of Bishop Boulos Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church and John Ibrahim of the Assyrian Orthodox Church.

This news is a reminder that Christians today continue to be persecuted like there were 2,000 years ago when Paul and Silas preached the Word of God. In today’s scriptures we hear about the suffering endured by them in Philippi: “The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison…” (Acts 16:22-23)

I do pray that like Paul and Silas, Bishop Yazigi and Ibrahim’s faith give them strength to endure this ordeal and are delivered from their kidnappers.