First Sunday in Advent

I love to receive Christmas cards but unfortunately I am not very good at sending them. Many years ago I received a Christmas card from Jerusalem with a special greeting. In it was our second reading from today: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Over the
years I have kept reading the message from St Paul to help me more fully understand what Paul meant then and how I can better be more aware of the meaning for 2014.

Just imagine getting a letter from God, through Paul, that God wants you to be filled with grace and peace. What a wonderful gift to receive!! God is telling you right now that God wants you to have peace in your heart and be filled with every grace you need to help you accomplish all of your hearts desires. We all have areas of need in our temperament and actions that need changing and need improvement. God is telling us now that grace is being provided for you.

Paul is also telling us that he is giving thanks to God on our behalf for all the ways we have been and are being enriched in every way. God, through Paul, is giving us such encouragement because we are making progress day by day, week by week, and situation by situation.

This second reading is for us to be aware that God knows we are trying and we are succeeding to lead a good and compassionate Christian life. Do not give up. Do not become discouraged when life seems hard and the road seems very hard. God is faithful. God is always with us. God will never leave us alone and by ourselves. The love of God surrounds us, envelops us, and permeates us so we know; we know that God is with us all of the time. We have been called to a fellowship with Jesus Christ that no one can take away from us.

This is the kind of greeting card is the kind of card that we could send to all of our friends, neighbors, family and all. It is a card that we can take out of the envelope and remember all year long when the way starts getting difficult and we become afraid. Here am I remembering this greeting thirty years after I have received it from the sacred city and I am still in awe.
The Gospel today from Mark reminds us to stay awake because you never know when the time will come. I used to think that God might ask me to join him in heaven. But then I read the words of Cardinal Hume: “There are times when I can visualize Our Lord at the break of day standing by my bed and saying: “Get up, follow me.” Whether I am conscious of it or not, in effect that invitation, that loving insistent command, is given to me every day. Each new morning is the opportunity to start again. Yesterday there may have been inadequacies and failures but today Christ renews his call: Follow me. I have chosen you. I need you.” Who can fail to respond to the thought that God needs our willing collaboration? “(with help from the Dublin Diocesan website).

We all can do something each day. We all can pray without ceasing for the troubles of our world. I talked to a physical therapy aid last week that told me that he is too tired to pray for so many things at the end of his day. I told him that that praying unceasingly all day for all the people, and problems, and concerns, and himself WAS, and repeat, WAS something he could do all day. Instead of complaining or reading a cheap magazine, pray, pray, pray in one word, several words, or just repeating the name of Jesus over and over. We will be making a difference for others and will be making a difference for ourselves when we recognize that our minds our constantly focused on God.

Be at peace my friends and know that grace and peace from the Holy One is flowing upon you, around you, inside of you, and through you. You are truly blessed.

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