Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on which season it is, how shopping has anything to do with it, multiple catalogs and the repo man.  What are our priorities and how do we stick to them in this crazy world of Black Friday and Shop-till-you-drop?  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the1st Sunday of Advent. Please read Luke 21:25-36. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 12/2/2012The 1st Sunday of Advent.

 Please pause this audio and read Luke 21:25-36

I got my notice on the day after Thanksgiving in the mail from the local tree farm that my tree was ready and waiting to be cut down and placed in my living room. I got a boat load of catalogs from Best Buy, Kohl’s, and so man different little toy companies I cannot nearly name them all. I have received about twenty five catalogs from Lillian Vernon this week alone. I received a notice that the University’s Christmas dinner (which I love) is coming up–in Advent mind you.   The shopping centers, malls and department stores are urging me to “hurry, hurry, hurry” for the “best deals in town.” Wal-Mart celebrated a “vigil” for Black Friday by opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. I am told by all the TV talk shows that I am to be cheery beginning with the first left overs from the turkey and stuffing because now “‘tis the season!”

         In the midst of all of this preparation and holiday cheer, we have this passage from the Gospel of Luke. Jesus tells us (of all things!) that the end of the world is coming near! Doesn’t he get it! Doesn’t Jesus understand that we are preparing for his birth! Why must he and the church be such a wet blanket all of the time? Especially when we are ready to celebrate Christmas and they throw Advent at us!

Simply put, the reason Jesus seems to be such a downer is because we have separate agendas. Our agenda is to eat, drink and be merry, exclusively. His agenda is to raise up a faithful people who will be with him forever and ever in heaven. That is why we Christians have a different calendar than the fourth quarter analysts on Wall Street.

Christmas does not BEGIN until December 25. It goes for 12 days. It is definitely a celebration of the Birth of Christ. Today, we are beginning Advent, the first three Sundays of which await the Second Coming of the Lord.   This is what Jesus is preparing us for in the passage for the First Sunday of Advent.

This passage in the Gospel of St. Luke happens when Jesus is teaching his disciples in the Temple. He has just talked about the woman who put in her last pennies when all others gave out of their abundance. Then he begins to tell everyone that there will come a day when all of the buying and selling will cease.

         What will we do then? What will we do when we are going to be held accountable for the fact that our society does not celebrate Jesus’ Second Coming or even his Birth, but celebrates the Fourth Quarter Earnings Reports that will provide our stock dividends and make our portfolios nice and shiny?

I don’t think Jesus has anything against making money. I do think he calls us, among all the other things we will do this holiday season, to put our priorities in order. There are plenty among us who would like to have the holiday shopping season and all of the extra rushing and visiting of relatives we may not like anyway to stop. Jesus’ focus on his imminent coming should make us stop for a moment and reevaluate the situation.

He tells us that there will be signs in the Sun, moon and constellations. The earth will shake and the oceans will shake. There will be great destruction and persecution in the earth. What then? What are we to do at this frightening prospect?

         If you look at this passage carefully, you will notice that there is a surprise inside on this matter. Let’s read the passage carefully right after Jesus tells us all of these nasty things are going to happen.

He says, “at that time you will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

In its most negatively ridiculous state it would be like the doorbell ringing and a grungy guy on the other side of the screen saying, “Hello, I am the repossession man. I have come to repossess your car today. I want you to raise up your head, stand tall and celebrate. Because today is a sign that your redemption is near! Have a nice day!”

This passage in its seriousness reminds us we are followers of Jesus. We are told by him to lift up our heads in the face of destruction because we can see that in the midst of destruction is the renewing power of Christ ready to spring forth in creation of a new heaven and a new earth. We are to stand up for the testimony of Jesus’ Second Coming as a testimony which brings hope and love: the testimony is that Jesus Christ is in control.

         My friends, we are Christ-ians. We trust the power and majesty of Jesus Christ. When we see him coming on a cloud, it is just time for us to go home. We are on our way to be with our Lord forever and ever. Even if we are faced with earthquakes, tossing seas, persecutions and presidential contests that just won’t end, we are to be the calm center in the eye of the hurricane around us. We are calm because we know that no matter how much life throws at us, no matter how much it hurts to be alive sometimes, God is in control. God is there. God is going to come again and all of this stuff is going to stop and something wonderfully new is going to take its place.

          So, we remain faithful because we don’t know when he is going to come, but know he is going to come. We want to be ready. We want to deck our hearts more than we deck our halls. We want to participate in more righteousness than revelry. We want to drink the cup of salvation more than another cup of egg nog. We want to give our bodies as holy and living sacrifices to our God and not to give another gift with which no one knows what to do. This holiday season, we are willing to entertain the possibility of forgiving our family members for past hurts over foraging in our pasts to make them pay. Our focus is on the gift of salvation offered in Jesus Christ hung on a tree and not the gifts in our living rooms lying under the tree.

So, I invite you to take a rest for a moment and contemplate the serenity of Christ who comes in the midst of our stormy lives. Rest on his strong arms. Beg of God that he will come soon, so that our waiting will be done and the world will be restored to its rightful state of glory before her king. Amen? Amen.

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