BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong.

1. One-Liners. Let’s start with some interesting one-liners: 1. Many folks want to serve God, but only as advisers. 2. Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on the front door forever. 3. We don’t change the message; the message changes us. 4. Be content with what you have, but not with what you are.

2. Advent. Today is the 1st Sunday of Advent, the season of preparation for the “three comings of Christ”. Yes, in Advent, we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the first coming of Christ. We prepare for the 2nd coming of Christ at the end of time or at the end of our lives. Even more importantly, we prepare for the 3rd coming of Christ, namely, the daily coming of Christ into our lives, through the Word of God we hear/read, the Body and Blood of Christ we receive, the people we encounter and reach out to, especially the less privileged. That way we experience the continuous presence of Christ in our lives and our world. This is how to enjoy Christ. What a host of opportunities to enjoy Christ.


Today’s Scripture readings challenge us to make better preparations for these three comings. Incidentally, certain organizations and persons have been inspired by today’s Scripture readings in spectacular ways and we too should be inspired. The 1st reading (Is 2:1-5) is a description of the peace that the Messiah would bring in His first coming. The peace will not be automatic. It will be a process involving people’s response to the Messiah, the Prince of Peace: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again”. Those are among the most pacific words ever written and no wonder the United Nations adopted those words. The words appropriately adorn the so-called Isaiah Wall on the United Nations Plaza, opposite the UN Headquarters in New York. Isaiah 2:4: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore”. Yes, they shall turn their nuclear weapons into nuclear reactors for electricity and medical applications. In preparation to celebrate the 1st coming of the Prince of Peace, I must reconcile and make peace with neighbors. It is a process that can always be improved upon, year by year, day by day, enabling us to enjoy Christ, more and more.
The Gospel reading (Mt 24:37-44) exhorts us to be prepared for the 2nd and final coming of the Lord. “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man….Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…you also must be prepared….” It seems like Robert Baden-Powell got inspiration from this passage in giving the Boy Scouts their motto: Be Prepared. He envisaged a readiness in mind and body just as Scripture. Anecdotally, Baden-Powell seemingly lived up to this motto when, in 1909, at the gathering of Scouts at the Crystal Palace in London, “amongst the many thousands of Boy Scouts, there was a small group of girls, dressed in Scout uniforms, who had gatecrashed the event without tickets. When asked, they replied, ‘We are the Girl Scouts!’” (Wikipedia). That same year, Robert recruited his sister, Agnes Baden-Powell to assemble and lead a new organization they called Girl Guides, with the same motto: “Be prepared”.

3. Tolle lege. Dear sisters and brothers, the 3rd coming of Christ, that is, the daily coming of Christ into our lives, through the Word of God we hear, the Eucharist we receive, the people we encounter and reach out to, is happening right now and it should make us enjoy Christ all the more. St Augustine typifies what that enjoyment entails. He read the very words we heard in today’s 2nd Reading (Rom 13:11-14) and that was it. He described in his work Confessions, how it happened, with the mysterious voice, Tolle Lege, Tolle Lege (take up and read, take up and read). He read Romans 13:13 “not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” St Augustine’s life exemplified the breaking of bad habits and building up of virtues, thanks to Christian conversion. Daily conversion, repetition of good deeds: these are the ways we live continuously in the presence of Christ, enjoying His peace even in a turbulent world.



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