Meeting Christ in the Liturgy

Advent, Year A

Select liturgy here

First Sunday

Second Sunday

Third Sunday

Fourth Sunday

First Sunday

Isaiah 2. 1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24: 37-44

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today we hear words of warning, a description by Christ of His second coming on the Final Day. "The Son of Man is coming at the time you least expect." It is that coming of the Lord for each of us upon which we meditate in these first weeks of Advent.

The Lord makes clear that the authentic Christian lives with a sense of urgency. He leaves no doubt in our minds that all of us face the judgment, and that the day will come, whether sooner or later, when God will bring the kingdom to its fullness. When that day comes, all will be caught up in the baptism of the "Holy Spirit and fire," God's power and glory fully revealed in its awful and terrible splendor. It will be for each of us like the burning of fire, and like the strongest and most powerful of windstorms.
On the judgment day the Catechism has this to say:

Since the Ascension Christ's coming in glory has been imminent, (Rev 22:20) even though 'it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.' (Acts 1:7) (CCC 673)

God our just Judge is like the figure of the one who winnows the wheat, separating the good grain from the chaff, the part of the grain which is useless and must be thrown away: His winnowing-fan is in his hand, he will reward those who have been faithful. How do we live as faithful Christians? Through lives continually transformed by the power of God's mercy, fully granted us in Christ. This Advent, experience rebirth in the sacrament of Confession; experience Christ's mercy in its fullest form this side of Heaven and prepare well for His coming again. The gift of peace will be yours at Christmas.

Then Christmas season is truly a time for rejoicing, and lights and decorations help us to spread that spirit, but if they take the place of an authentic spiritual preparation we lose the purpose of the season. Give the central place of importance to Christ by using an Advent wreath or calendar at home, and by postponing final Christmas decorating until December 17th, the day on which the Church begins its meditation and proclamation of the infancy narratives. In this way, we will better proclaim, and live, the truth which sets us free in the birth of our Lord on December 24th at midnight.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy," Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


Second Sunday

Isaiah 11, 1-10; Psalm 72; Rom 15, 4-9; Matthew 3, 1-12

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Reform your lives! The kingdom of heaven is at hand." These words of John the Baptist warn us against sleeping our lives away, against spiritual laziness. Like headlines about a disaster on the front page of the newspaper, the Gospel of Jesus, made manifest in the words and actions of St. John, are urgent and sometimes frightening. Our Lord makes it clear that we cannot afford confusion about where we are heading. We must realize that our words and actions of each day, of every moment, have eternal significance. Christianity is not a science of escaping as much punishment as possible in the hands of an angry God. Christianity is a relationship, important above all others. Our faith should be our very life, more precious than all other things. If we cannot say this is true, then we are not the Christians our Lord calls us to be. If we realize that the stakes are eternal, than the words of Christ will not be lost upon us. We will take his words and teachings to heart, as spirit and life.
The Catechism instructs about the role of St. John.

St John the Baptist is the Lord's immediate precursor or forerunner, sent to prepare his way. (Mt 3:3) "Prophet of the Most High," John surpasses all the prophets, of whom he is the last. (Lk 1:76) He inaugurates the Gospel, already from his mother's womb welcomes the coming of Christ, and rejoices in being "the friend of the bridegroom," whom he points out as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." (Jn 1:29) Going before Jesus "in the spirit and power of Elijah," John bears witness to Christ in his preaching, by his Baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom. (Lk 1:17) (CCC 523)

This kingdom proclaimed and lived by St. John is for us also. Our faith is one of reaching out, proclaiming Christ to others, inviting others to share the life of Christ. "Come after me and I will make you fishers of men." Preaching, teaching and proclaiming the fantastic news about the kingdom is not just for the apostles, the pope, bishops, and priests, but for all. Our life, first given in baptism, by its nature seeks to share itself with others. Faith will not satisfy, will not bring more life and grow, if we are content to keep it inside. True faith seeks generously to be shared with all of the brothers and sisters we meet. Share your faith, be "fishers of men", and your faith-life will overflow in joy and will surely grow, welling up to eternal life.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy," Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


Third Sunday

Isaiah 35, 1-6.10; Psalm 146; Jas 5, 7-10; Matthew 11, 2-11

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus testifies to himself both through his words and his works. He reveals the kingdom to all who are open to see and to hear the truth. The disciples of John come to him to hear his testimony. Because they are open to the truth, they will hear and believe. They will know the power and peace of the kingdom. The Catechism addresses these signs of the kingdom in Christ.

The signs worked by Jesus attest that the Father has sent him. They invite belief in him. (Jn 5:36) To those who turn to him in faith, he grants what they ask. (Mk 5:25-34) So miracles strengthen faith in the One who does his Father's works; they bear witness that he is the Son of God. (Jn 10:31-38) But his miracles can also be occasions for "offense", (Mt 11:6) they are not intended to satisfy people's curiosity or desire for magic. Despite his evident miracles some people reject Jesus; he is even accused of acting by the power of demons." (Jn 11:47-48) (CCC 548)

Let us accept the gift of signs according to the Father's will, never taking offense at his marvelous providence, in which he promises not a "hair of our heads" will be harmed. Let us wait upon the Lord in patience as we ask for all our needs in prayer, confident that he will never fail to reveal the kingdom to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy," Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/


Fourth Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 7, 10-14; Ps 24; Romans 1, 1-7; Matthew 1, 18-24

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The perpetual virginity of Mary, part of God's plan, comes to our attention in today's Gospel according to St. Matthew, chapter one, verses eighteen to twenty-four. In the Catechism we read:

The gospel accounts understand the virginal conception of Jesus as a divine work that surpasses all human understanding and possibility (Lk 1:26-38): 'That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit,' said the angel to Joseph about Mary his fiancee. (Mt 1:20) The Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. (Is 7:14) (CCC 497)
Christian virginity is holy
We live in a cynical and godless age, in which the sacredness of marriage and family life is under vociferous attack. In such times, the virtue of virginity is spurned; presumed humanly impossible, undesirable, or somehow suspect. "People are sometimes troubled by the silence of St. Mark's Gospel and the New Testament Epistles about Jesus' virginal conception. Some might wonder if we were merely dealing with legends or theological constructs not claiming to be history. To this we must respond : Faith in the virginal conception of Jesus met with the lively opposition , mockery, or incomprehension of non-believers, Jews and pagans alike; so it could hardly have been motivated by pagan mythology or by some adaptation to the ideas of the age. The meaning of this event is accessible only to faith, which understands it in the "connection of these mysteries with one another" in the totality of Christ's mysteries, from his Incarnation to his Passover. St. Ignites of Antioch already bears witness to this connection: 'Mary's virginity and giving birth, and even the Lord's death escaped the notice of the prince of this world: these three mysteries worthy of proclamation were accomplished in God's silence.' (CCC 498)
Mary is "ever-virgin"
The deepening of faith in the virginal motherhood led the Church to confess Mary's real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to the Son of God made man. In fact, Christ's birth 'did not diminish his mother's virginal integrity but sanctified it.' And so the liturgy of the Church celebrates Mary as Aeiparthenos, the 'Ever-virgin.' (CCC 499)
Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. (Mk 3:31-35) The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, 'brothers of Jesus,' are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls 'the other Mary.' They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression. (Gen 13:8; 14:6; 29:15) (CCC 500)

I look forward to meeting you here again next week as, together, we "meet Christ in the liturgy," Father Cusick

(Publish with permission.) http://www.christusrex.org/www1/mcitl/