My Dear Sisters and Brothers! You could say that that day I had an early taste of Advent, as we understand Advent as the season of waiting, don’t we? I do agree that standing under the tin roof and listening to the rain hitting it and thunderstorms I had an early start to Advent. However it wasn’t because waiting was testing my patience. It was because I was rescued. A man was driving his Ute when he spotted me and the dog. He did a U-turn and offered to take me and the dog home. What did it have to do with Advent? Well, Advent means both literally and theologically: ‘Coming.’ I don’t mean coming of a storm but coming of Jesus Christ. Our Blessed Lord said in the Gospel: ‘Stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming.’ He didn’t say if but when, though he explained to us that we will ‘never know when the time will come.’ However the essence of the season of Advent, which we are beginning this Sunday, is about treasuring and encouraging each other with the words: ‘Our Lord is coming.’ St John in the Gospel recorded the words of Jesus from the Last Supper: ‘I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.’
The second reading for this Mass, taken from the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, was rather brief, only six verses. However if you read it carefully you realise that Paul in those six verses managed to speak about Jesus six times. Even the people who are not religious at all could tell that Jesus Christ was very important to Paul. As we begin a new Church year, which is centred on the event of Jesus Christ, we remember that Our Lord is continually coming. ‘Our Redeemer’ as the prophet Isaiah called him ‘has torn the heavens open’ to the extent that the heavens are not a border between us and God. Our coming Lord offers to take us out of our problems in the way we don’t expect. We don’t need to wait for the problem to pass. We don’t need to struggle with our sins on our own or to wait until they somehow rather disappear. Jesus is coming.
My Dear Friends! Many people, including people we know, are stuck in the middle of their problems and overwhelming situations. They don’t know that by believing in Jesus they can, with Jesus, pass over those problems and situations, that they can experience a new life and a new freedom.
Twenty two years ago, on December 3, John Paul II canonised Eugene de Mazenod who founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Twenty two years ago it was also Sunday. In his homily the Pope said: ‘We are living in the second Advent of the world’s history. Eugene de Mazenod was a man of Advent, a man of the Coming. He not only looked forward to that Coming, he dedicated his whole life to preparing for it, one of those apostles who prepared the modern age, our age… What Saint Eugene waned to achieve was that, in Jesus Christ, each individual could become a fully complete person, an authentic Christian, a credible saint.’
Eugene desired to show everyone that by trusting and believing Jesus people are like the clay in the hand of the potter, God. God who never tires of working on us, like he worked on the first people as we read in the Genesis.
I am grateful to the man who picked me up from my hiding place and dropped me off to the presbytery last week, when severe storms were rolling through the town. However I am forever grateful to our Blessed Lord who after picking me up when I am lost and overwhelmed doesn’t just drop me off but stays with me and works on me.