November 26, 2017

This weekend is our “transition” Sunday in our Catholic liturgical tradition. Fresh from our celebration of Thanksgiving, we gather to celebrate the last Sunday of the liturgical year: the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Next weekend we begin the season of Advent and our 21 day preparation for Christmas.

This weekend we give praise and thanks to our God, who in Jesus, shows his dominion over all of creation. That dominion, that kingship, is already present in the Church, but will come in its fullness at the end of time.

Advent is our privileged time to prepare for that coming. Our Advent season is very short this year. Even though there are four Sundays of Advent, because of how Christmas falls, there are only three full weeks of Advent this year. The Fourth Sunday of Advent is also Christmas Eve.

During these three short weeks, you and I enter into a counter-cultural experience. For us Christians, this time is a time to prepare for Christmas, but not to celebrate it yet. All around us we hear Christmas music playing. But for us, we reserve Christmas music for the Christmas Season. During Advent, we sing music at liturgy that anticipates the coming of Christmas. Songs like “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” reflect the longing for the coming of Jesus.

Our scriptures during these Sundays of Advent reflect the same kind of longing and expectation. Next Sunday, on the First Sunday of Advent, we begin this new liturgical year looking ahead, to when Jesus will return at the end of time. The words of Jesus sound very much like what we have been hearing the last few Sundays: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come…May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.”

This is the theme that concludes one liturgical year and begins another. We look ahead to the coming of Jesus and are reminded to prepare for that coming - at the end of our own personal lives, and at the end of time.

On the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist tells us how to prepare for the coming of Jesus: by acknowledging our sins and repenting. That word “repentance” in Greek means literally to “change our minds.” Advent gives us a chance to see things differently, to change our perspective and be renewed in the power of the Holy Spirit.

On the Third Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist makes clear that he is not the light, but has come to testify to the light that is coming into the world. He points to the light; he prepares us for the light. And on the morning of December 24th, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear how that light comes to a young woman betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David. Mary’s words, “May it be done to me according to your word,” prepare us for the great celebrations that begin a few hours later on Christmas Eve.

As we gather on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we begin two weeks of celebrating. Now is the time for us to pull out all the stops and sing our Christmas music - not just on Christmas Day, but until January 8th, when we conclude the Christmas Season with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

May today’s celebration of Christ the King, and these coming days of Advent, prepare us well to celebrate the coming of Jesus among us long ago, and help us to look forward to his coming again.

God Bless,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni