Grow Close to God in Advent

shutterstock_163977962“You too must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

These words of Jesus reinforce our sense of Advent as a Season of vigilance for His second coming. Like the master of the house in the Gospel parable who is constantly vigilant to ward off the thief who comes as night, we too must be constantly prepared for the coming of the Son of Man. But if He is coming “at an hour we do not expect” to judge the living and the dead, doesn’t that make Him look like a wicked judge who constantly watches us to surprise us with His glorious coming only when we let down our guards? Is Jesus Christ a heartless judge who only chooses our moments of sleepiness and laziness to spring a surprise appearance on us? Is it His idea of salvation to condemn us for our moments of laziness no matter how vigilant we may have been n the past? Surely this is not the case but how easy it is for us to think like that.

The earlier reference to Noah’s ark gives us a more complete picture of the Advent season than an anxious waiting for a judge who appears more concerned in catching us unprepared for His coming. Though the floods were sudden and “carried them all away,” the people of Noah’s time did not notice that in Noah’s ark, God was offering them saving mercy. In Noah’s ark, something that seemed out of place and maybe unnecessary in their arid regions, in a way inconceivable to them at that time, God was offering them friendship with Him and a means of salvation from the floods to come. Sadly they did not notice it because they were so focused on “eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark.” They never bothered asking, “Why this mysterious ark? What does it mean for us?” The floods caught them unprepared simply because they had failed to realize that the ark was a saving grace for them and an invitation to enduring divine friendship.

St. Paul calls the Romans to have a vigilant attitude together with openness to the friendship that Jesus Christ is offering to them at the present moment. They are to be vigilant because “salvation is nearer than when (they) first believed.” But they are also to grow in friendship with Christ now, loving what Jesus loves and despising what He despises, by “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The call to “wake from sleep” now is a call to be attentive to Jesus’ diverse invitations to friendship with Him here and now and not a vague tensed waiting for a coming judge.

Advent cannot be seen only as a season of waiting for a judge who seems bent on catching us off-guard. But it is a season when we stop to listen attentively and notice how our friend, Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is constantly drawing us to greater friendship with Him here and now in preparation for His glorious return. Jesus Christ is not a heartless judge who seeks to catch us off-guard at His coming but a friend who walks with us today, ceaselessly drawing us into His friendship and, by so doing, preparing us for His glorious return at the end of time. By our union with Him, our sense of friendship with Him moves us away from being fixated on the coming judgment.

One concrete way in which we can respond to this call of Christ to greater friendship with Him this Advent season is through a renewed practice of Eucharistic Adoration. In a way more profound than Noah’s ark, the Eucharistic presence of our Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest sign of God’s saving mercy and ceaseless invitation to friendship that we can have here on earth. Jesus Christ, true God and true man, dwells in our tabernacles to reconcile us with God now and make us long and strive for the final consummation of this divine friendship in the age to come. It is in our silent moments with His Eucharistic presence in pure faith that we begin to sense His invitation to deeper friendship in all the aspects of our lives.

The people of Noah’s time were people who lived by their external senses or by how they felt and not by faith. They were so focused on the things of the senses that they became blind to God’s saving plan right before their eyes. It is in Eucharistic adoration that the human senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch) are rendered helpless and God’s saving mysteries are ever present to us. Our time in Eucharistic adoration opens us to this mysterious presence and inflames our desire for full communion with the Triune God at the end of time.

Like in the case of Noah’s ark, we can sometimes take the Eucharist for granted. We receive the Eucharist so often that we fail to realize its significance. The necessity of the Eucharistic adoration for our earthly pilgrimage has been lost to so many Catholics. How easily we ignore the presence of Jesus in the tabernacles of our Churches as we focus on the duties and demands of our daily lives. When we lose this sense of being constantly called to friendship with God here on earth, the Advent Season becomes only a tensed waiting for a dreaded judgment day and not the climax of union with a friend who walks with us daily in preparation for His glorious return.

We can choose to make this Advent season more fruitful for us. We can choose to continue seeing this season as an anxious waiting for the judge who cannot wait to catch us off-guard at His coming. Or we can choose to come into Jesus’ hidden Eucharistic presence in faith and love, listen to His words and be drawn into friendship with Him here and now. If our faith is strong enough to recognize His Eucharistic presence, our hope will be strong enough to tell us that at the end of time, we shall stand before a friend who has been with us all along preparing us for the end of time.

The true, living, and eternal ark of God is in our midst today thanks to the spotless humanity that Jesus received from Mother Mary. The pierced side of Our Savior is the door to this ark. In this ark, we find Jesus who reconciles us with the Father and remains with us till the very end of time preparing us for His glorious return. This door remains open at every moment in all tabernacles of our Churches where our Eucharistic Lord abides to draw us into greater friendship with Him. Let us enter now and remain there so that even if the end of time is sudden, we will be prepared to meet not a heartless judge but a loving friend who has journeyed with us and has adequately prepared us for His glorious coming.

Glory to Jesus!!! Honor to Mary!!!!

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme, OMV

By

Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at  www.toquenchhisthirst.wordpress.com.

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  • Tom

    Thanks father for this great insight. Laus tibi Christi.

  • http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/ Thomas Richard

    Fr. Moneme, faithful Catholics in the U.S. who recognize Christ in the Eucharist can certainly be greatly blessed and graced in time of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament! But that group (faithful Catholics) is shrinking. According to the statistics that I have read, only 2/3 of “cradle Catholics” in the U.S. remain in the Church – and of those who do remain, only about 40% believe in the Real Presence of Christ in Holy Eucharist.

    I hope that many Catholics who do take time for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, will earnestly pray for renewal in the Church. We who remain in the Church need to grow in the faith, to become strong in the faith – indeed to know the faith! And we need deeply to believe all that we know, so that – empowered by faith – we can sincerely live the life of Christ and do what He sent us to do: make disciples. We need hearts on fire with the Gospel – Catholics who cannot rest except to reach out into the growing darkness of this culture, to try to rescue souls for Christ.

    I see that you work in the Retreat ministry – a beautiful and important work in this time. In the U.S., I would say that our greatest needs in the Church at the parish level are adult formation in the Faith of the Church, specifically including adult formation and growth in the life of prayer. May the Lord bless you in your ministry!

  • Cates Ceedee Jolane

    Fr. Nnamdi, this is a very great insight for everyone. I just wish that there are daily masses every parish in the whole world, so that those who are hungry and thirsty for the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ would be able to do the Eucharistic Adoration everyday. There is quite a few Catholic Churches in our area and I am also wishing that there are lots of Catholic Churches everywhere. I thank God our Father in Heaven for the blessings He bestowed upon your work and everyone in the Oblates, especially Bro. Jerry; thank you for all your prayers and sacrifices for God’s glory and the salvation of souls. May God Almighty always give you unselfish zeal for His glory.

  • Mary C Donahue

    thanks Father

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