Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As the Church approaches the end of the liturgical year (a new liturgical year starts with the first Sunday of Advent), the scripture readings at Mass tend to take on themes that relate to the end of days and Christ’s second coming.
Today we hear Jesus tell us to “stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour” when the Bridegroom will come. The Bridegroom of course, being Jesus who will return to claim his Bride, the Church.
The second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians also makes reference to the Lord’s return at the end of time. St. Paul says, “for the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” God’s word clearly tells us that the Lord Jesus will return and that we should be ready to meet him when he does. Are you ready? If not, what are you doing to get ready?
Two weeks ago, the Gospel spoke of the two greatest commandments. The first, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; and the second, to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said all the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments. They constitute the Law of Love.
If you want to stay awake and be ready for the Lord’s return, concern yourself with loving God and loving your neighbor. I think it is fair to say that life’s most important task is to learn how to do these two things well. All the tools that the Lord Jesus has left to his Church: the authoritative teaching office of the popes and bishops, the commandments, the scriptures, the Sacraments and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are all available to help us learn to love rightly; in imitation of God’s perfect love revealed to us in Jesus Christ.
Most of you know that I was a paramedic for many years before going to seminary. Unlike other healthcare workers who might deal with more chronic and slowly advancing diseases, paramedics often face sudden crises, catastrophic events, that come without warning. Our motto was “stay alert, be ready.” As your pastor, I would now offer the same advice.
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life,