The season of Advent begins this weekend with joyful expectation of our Lord’s Glorious Second Coming and the celebration of His Nativity on December 25th. The readings this 1st Sunday of Advent direct our attention to the End Times and Jesus’ return in glory. Jeremiah tells us, “the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise.” Jesus instructs the disciples and us that great signs will accompany the advent of the coming of the Son of Man: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die in fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world…But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” St. Paul exhorts the Church of Thessalonica to conduct themselves in manner pleasing to God, as they have been conducting themselves, but to do so even more that they may be found “blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.” Powerful images and reminders to all of us to remain faithful to the Truth, and not be distracted by all that takes place in this crazy and fallen world. Trials and tribulations occur regularly in our lives and around the world. Jesus said elsewhere that these signs will be much like a pregnant woman who begins her birth pains. At first the contractions are small and spaced wide
apart, but soon they increase in intensity and frequency as the moment of new birth arrives. We could easily get caught up in trying to anticipate or predict the day of his coming, but that is not especially beneficial to our spiritual lives. However, what is beneficial is to conduct ourselves in accord with the great calling of all the saints—to live lives of holiness and virtue. You and I can’t and won’t know for sure, whether the signs that accompany our generation are the signs that foretell the Second Coming. But, we can certainly strive to live holy lives and prepare ourselves for the judgment that will determine where we spend eternity. If we desire to live with God our lives will look Godly, and if we seek to live apart from him our lives will reflect that tragic and horrendous decision too. Advent reminds us to look at what God has already done for us, and to remember all that he has promised to those that love Him.
It is the season for giving. I received a tri-fold flyer from the St. Francis Prayer Center recently that gave some hard numbers that reflect what we see with our own eyes in the Flint area. Flint was at the top of the list of U.S. cities with the highest poverty rates; 44.5% of Flint residents live below the poverty line according to their reported incomes and government statistics. An expected consequence of this sad fact is that Flint also has the highest number of children living in poverty at 57.7%. These are harsh reminders of how so many families and individuals struggle to survive and make ends meet within our community. I encourage everyone who is able to give to a local charity during this Advent. The St. Francis Prayer Center does a lot of outreach in the North End, as does Catholic Charities in downtown Flint. St. Mary’s has its own St. Vincent DePaul outreach and Holy Rosary likewise has its Food Pantry to help those in need of the basic necessities. However, money and food are not the only things needed by these organizations; they also are always in need of volunteers. When Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me” he was giving us a two-fold command: 1) To celebrate the Eucharist as a perpetual memorial. 2) To live our lives in a sacrificial manner for others. Let us be faithful to both this Advent Season.
Congratulations are in order for all those who worked on and those who attended the Holy Rosary Silent Auction in November. This year’s fundraiser raised $25,000.00 for the parish. It was a great evening with some great items to bid on and many good people with which to share food and conversation. I want to thank all the volunteers who put in weeks and months of their time to make the evening a success. Thank You!!!