“Be watchful! Be alert!” are the first words with which Mark greets us at the beginning of this new year of the church. They are also the last words spoken by Jesus in Mark’s gospel (Mark 13:37) before the vortex of violence begins to suck Jesus into the passion and death that he will conquer by his resurrection. So even as we begin Advent, we are reminded we are reminded of the paschal mystery of Christ, the hub of the liturgical year.
Advent is a time of waiting. The prayers of Advent ask us to yield to God, to surrender to his will, to wait for God. We are the clay, God is the potter. We have no claim for the design of our life or to ask for a peculiar specification. Let us acquiesce to God’s gentle mercy and forgiveness. ~ Fr. Matt
“What is expected and demanded of me?” is the crucial question of this Feast. Someone calls us, makes demands, and waits for us. Who are they? Where do we find them? How long must they wait for us? ~ Fr. Matt
It is a bold thing to identify with Christ, Self-sacrifice, love of the other, and service are central to the identity of a Christian. How mortally dangerous it is, then, to call oneself Christian, to claim the role of disciple, without performing the required actions. It would be better not to claim the title at all. The will of God is caring for the poor and for the stranger. There are not merely kind acts, but the basis of salvation, for Christian and non-Christian alike. Let us keep before us the awesome call and responsibility to express our faith in action, not merely in words.
Today’s parable can move us to action, investing ourselves more fully in the Christian life. And for the Gospel of Matthew that means service of others, especially the less fortunate. Though there can be freeloaders, contributing little to no effort of their own, the parable today reminds us that there will come a time when God will take stock of each person’s efforts. May this gospel motivate us to continue serving without counting the cost, investing fully of ourselves and our talents. When there is an accounting, we want to hear the words, “Come, share your master’s joy.”
“Live each day to the fullest.” What does that mean? We develop and use our abilities for the moment of grace. We have to be ready for the inevitable and unpredictable each day. ~ Fr. Matt
To know and be known by Jesus is to be ready to receive him every day. Unfortunately we relegate Jesus to Sunday or a special time of day. Wisdom is knowing things and having experienced them. ~ Fr. Matt
The parable we read today should be a clarion call to “be prepared” for the coming of Jesus at the end times. And even if we think the end times are far, far away, my own personal end (death) may come when I least expect it. Am I prepared for that? Such a question can clarify your own priorities and behaviors. Jesus reminds us that the fools are the ones who were not prepared for the coming of the master. Let us be like the wise ones, attentive to the coming of the Lord, for we know now when that day might be.
All the readings talk about leadership. People are best served by th posture and the ministry of service. Truel leaders are enablers who help others reach their full potential in meeting life’s challenges. ~ Fr. Matt
As so many “official saints” have been priests, religious, and celibates, it’s critically important that we have the words of the Beatitudes in today’s gospel to remind us of what holiness looks like. Nowhere in the Beatitudes is there a word about celibacy. There is certainly nothing about one’s vocational state (priest, sister, etc.). Instead, we have attributes such as “poor in spirit,” “meek,” and “merciful.” These are the hallmarks of sanctity. And they can be practiced by anybody, religious or lay, Catholic or Protestant, even Christian or non- Christian. We recall that the Gospel of Matthew is much more about actions than words.