December 14, 2012 - Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Isaiah 48:17-19
Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Matthew 11:16-19

The irony of the Gospel is that people keep rejecting the kinds of prophets whom God sends, as if they were in a position to judge and reject God. It is as if a sick person in the hospital in need of emergency surgery kept rejecting doctors: too tall, too short, too skinny. They thought that John the Baptist was too austere, and Jesus was too friendly. In reality, John was exactly as austere as he should have been, and Jesus was exactly as friendly as he should have been. The people could not see the difference between, “This is the sort of prophet whom I like to have” and “This is the sort of prophet whom I need.”

I think it would be very presumptuous of me to presume that I or any other member of the clergy brings exactly the level of friendliness or fasting that we ought to. When people complain about us, they are probably often justified. But just because the person preaching is too much this and not enough that does not mean that their message is useless. Sometimes people become preoccupied with judging some clergy and rejecting others and even celebrating others. As St. Paul says, “If you judge the law, you are not a follower of the law.” If we are trying to judge whether we liked the homily, we are not listening to the homily and being moved by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The greatest difficulty with this is that there are many false shepherds. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing who come into the Church as clergy and then preach the opposite of the Church’s teachings, or worse, commit grave sins and claim that what they are doing is good. Do we not need to be on our guard? Yes, but whether they are too fat or thin, too loud or quiet, too American or foreign, too liberal or conservative, too happy or sad, too smart or dumb, or whatever other human traits attract us or stand in the way of following them, we know that we do not worship them but Jesus Christ. If they lead us to Jesus, we can get over their faults. If they lead us away from him, it would not matter how pleasant they are. It is nice to find a preacher who is fun and easy to listen to, but it is far more important that they will lead us to Jesus.

December 13, 2012 - Thursday of the Second Week of Advent

Isaiah 41:13-20
Psalm 145:1, 9-13
Matthew 11:11-15

The Gospel today is complicated, defying easy explanation. Jesus says that there has been no one born of woman greater than John the Baptist, yet I know of two who were born of woman who are greater than John the Baptist: Jesus and Mary. And what does greater even mean? Greater in holiness or power or love of God or humility or wisdom or strength or prophecy? And if the least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than him, does that mean that John does not participate in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Then Jesus says that from the time of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of Heaven suffered violence. In what way does the Kingdom suffer violence that it had not before John the Bapist? Was the disrespect for God's reign increased after John preached and baptized? Last we learn that John the Baptist is Elijah, which, taken literally, is strange since we know the story of his birth. Elijah lived 700 years earlier and was taken up in a chariot of fire. If John the Baptist were Elijah, we would expect that either people would have seen him come back in the chariot of fire or that no one would know where he came from.

It is possible to use tricks of language to make what Jesus has to say more understandable. We can say that John was playing the role of Elijah and that he was the greatest human being to live without having received the Holy Spirit as we have all received it. We can make these and many other explanations, but they cannot satisfy us.

The last words of the Gospel can guide us. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Jesus speaks to us and we hear him. We need not be surprised if there are things which Jesus says that we do not understand. There is a certain human pride which presumes that if we do not understand someone, it must be their problem. When something is difficult to understand, we can shoehorn it into our limited understanding or dismiss it as nonsense. We can also humbly submit that we are not capable of comprehending everything.

December 12, 2012 - Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10
Judith 13:18-19
Luke 1:26-38 or 1:39-47

Juan Diego had twice climbed the hill of Tepeyac and twice been told by the Blessed Virgin Mary to go to the bishop and ask that a church be built on that spot and had twice gone to the bishop and been twice put off. This time, as he walked near the hill, he would not climb it, for his uncle was sick and he was hurrying to get a priest, and he had no time now for visions. So he walked around the hill, but Mary appeared anyway at the bottom of the hill, for she is not restricted like some pagan gods were. She spoke tenderly to Juan Diego and told him, “There is nothing to frighten or distress you. Am I not your mother?” She spoke like a mother to her child and promised that his uncle was fine now. So, at her command, he climbed the hill and found there, in the dead of winter, roses of many different colors. He picked them and held them in his tilma and carried them to the bishop. Here was the sign that the bishop needed to believe: roses in winter. But when he went to the bishop and let go and the roses spilled on the ground, they went unnoticed because of the change that had occurred. On the tilma there was now an image of the woman who had appeared to him. There was a woman, with the moon under her feet, clothed with the sun, wearing the traditional sash that marked a pregnant woman in the native Mexican culture.

What thousands of missionaries would be unable to accomplish in a lifetime was done by Mary in a year. Millions of people suddenly knew for certain that this Jesus whom the Spaniards spoke of was not a Spaniard. His mother had appeared right there in their land, to one of their people, speaking their language, looking like one of them. She was not on the side of the conquerors. She was, as she always has been, on the side of the poor, because she too was poor, though now a queen. She was, in her humility, able to speak to humble people. Ever since the visitation, where she carried the body of Christ to Elizabeth and John, she has been bringing Christ to people throughout the world: in Mexico, in Lourdes, in Fatima, in Wisconsin, and many other places.

December 11, 2012 - Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 96:1-3, 10-13
Matthew 18:12-14

The people of Israel were anxious for the Lord to come and make right all that was wrong in the world. As Isaiah the prophet prophesied, “Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm. Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him.” The strongest argument against the Gospel, against the idea that Jesus is the Messiah, is that the world is still more or less damaged. But Jesus says that he is going to accomplish his task gently, like a shepherd with a lost lamb. The Kingdom of Heaven will grow in the world like yeast in dough. And it is happening. The past two thousand years have seen more progress than the rest of human history combined. Not only progress in technology, but in every area of human life: politics, agriculture, medicine, economics, sciences of every kind.

It is without dispute that there still are failures of our political system, but that does not deny the advances. Sickness still exists, but so do many cures. Poverty still exists, but not like 2000 years ago. Certainly there are still problems in the world, but solutions seem possible in a way that they did not before Christ came. Consider agriculture: for thousands of years, humans farmed and grew very little. In the past 2000 years, slowly methods were developed so that a hamburger is available at McDonalds for 99 cents. And in ethics too: the end of racism and other forms of prejudice, if not achieved, are at least generally agreed upon as goals.

And where did this progress come from? It came from places where the Gospel had gone. Certainly other people had invented and developed great ideas, but it went nowhere in general. In every other part of the world, as had happened for thousands of years, new developments came and faded away. Real progress was only made where the Gospel was. Why? Partly because most religions said that progress was impossible, that the material world was something to be hated or at least ignored, while others said that nature was to be worshiped and not changed. It is certainly not because of any lack of intelligence or ingenuity in other countries. Judaism contained the idea that the world could be better some day. Christianity told us that we were the ones, guided by the Holy Spirit, who were going to make it that way. We wait for Jesus to return, but in the meantime we have a responsibility to make this world better. Not only with the power that comes from technology, but also better ethics and better politics and better ways for humans to live together.

December 10, 2012 - Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 85:9-14
Luke 5:17-26

Well, which is easier to say, "Your sins are forgiven" or "rise and walk"? They seem about equally easy to say. Of course, Jesus did not speak English, so we cannot have a truly informed answer without comparing the original Aramaic phrases, which are lost to us. Even a scholar of Aramaic could only guess at what was originally said. Was one phrase more of a tongue twister? Neither will be many more syllables in any language. One includes a noun and a verb and the other two verbs and a conjunction. But whoever translated Jesus' words into Greek, whether Q or Matthew or a theoretical translator of Matthew, did not think that the original language had to be preserved for understanding the point, so we can comfortably answer the question then. Which is easier to say? It does not matter.

Since neither is easier to say, then Jesus' question implies that they mean the same thing. The Pharisees want to suggest that, while neither is easier to say, the healing is much easier to do. Jesus is telling them that he never heals except when he forgives sins. This bothers us modern people. We have rightly rejected the idea that sickness and sinfulness are correlated. Neither are the sickest the most sinful, nor are the most sinful always sick, and what of innocent children? However, just because sickness and sin are not strictly correlated does not mean that they are not related in some way, that the sinfulness of the world and the sickness of the world go hand in hand. As our first reading and tradition agree, in heaven there is neither sickness and death nor sin.

Jesus looked at the person on the stretcher and knew that while his body was disfigured by sickness, his soul was more disfigured by sin, as all our souls are. Though the crowd saw a man who could not walk, Jesus saw a man who could not love God. Any doctor could explain that to heal a lame man so that he can immediately stand up and walk would require many healings, of nerves and muscles and blood vessels. When Jesus heals, he does not name every healing individually but only part of the healing, and, without doubt, the central healing that every one of us needs is the forgiveness of sins. No healing, be it ever so amazing, would be complete without it, and Jesus would never heal us incompletely.

December 8, 2012 - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalm 98:1-4
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Luke 1:26-38

How beautiful is the Gospel today! From this one reading we learn so much about our Mother. First we learn that she is greater than the angels. To whom else did an angel, a messenger of God, come and say "Hail, full of grace"? With these words Gabriel acknowledges that he is speaking to someone greater than himself. We also learn by those words that she is free from all sin, for what is sin but a denial of grace and how could someone who ever denied grace be full of grace. Sin is an emptiness, but Mary was full.

From this Gospel we also learn that Mary is betrothed to Joseph, but also vowed to a lifelong virginity. How else could she say "I have no relations with man" and not "I have not had relations with a man"? What woman, even though a virgin, would be unable to figure out the meaning of the angel's words? No woman before was promised a child without expecting to conceive that child in the normal way. Mary is betrothed to Joseph. Without a prior commitment to virginity, any reasonable girl would expect to conceive the child during her imminent marriage.

From this Gospel we learn that Mary is the Mother of God. Gabriel calls her child the Son of God. The son of a dog is a dog. The son of a human is a human. The Son of God is God. If he were not, the title would be contradictory. We can be adopted sons and daughters of God, but the Son of God, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, can only be God, and the Mother of the Son of God must be therefore the Mother of God.

From this Gospel we learn that Mary is courageous. St. Joseph was terrified at the prospect of having a role in raising the Son of God, so much so that he was going to divorce Mary quietly. Mary, however, asks only for the practical details before submitting to the will of God.

From this Gospel we learn that Mary is humble. She, though courageous, is afraid. What frightens her who was not afraid either of the judgement of others or the terrible responsibility of being the Mother of God? She is frightened by a greeting. She is frightened to see an archangel bow before her. We sinners would rejoice to see an angel bow to serve us, and it would be Satan dressed as an angel of light to inflate our pride. Mary, who is destined to be Queen of Heaven, is too humble to understand the greeting.

From this Gospel we ought to learn to love Mary with a tiny portion of the great love by which God preserved her free from all sin from the moment of her creation. From this Gospel we ought to learn to love God with a tiny portion of the fearless, God-fearing love by which Mary said "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

December 7, 2012 - Friday of the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
Matthew 9:27-31

Our Lord, in the Gospel today, says something surprising. Even though we are accustomed to it from years of familiarity with the Gospels, we should not forget how strange it is that, after healing two blind men, he instructs them to see that no one knows about the healing.

Various commentators have put forth explanations for this command and the others like it. Some we should reject: that it is a dramatic device introduced by the writers or that our Lord knew that his instruction would be disobeyed and was trying to encourage the stories to spread with a bit of reverse psychology. Of the other theories, to judge between them would require knowing the mind of God.

Why the Lord would tell them to keep the story quiet is unclear. That he told them is certain. Their duty, therefore, was just as certain. Their disobedience shows how very little faith they had in Jesus. They had faith that Jesus could make the blind see, but they did not have faith that his commands were good.

This partial faith is bad. A Christian should have complete faith in our Lord. The faith is incomplete in the simple believer who prays for miracles of healing but does not believe that morality can heal their life, not even morality taught by him from whom the healing is sought. We ought not put up with an incomplete faith. It is illogical. It is unreasonable. If God is God, why would we disobey him?

God is not trying to hurt us. His goal is not to make us unhappy, thwarted creatures. What he forbids is bad, and what he commands is good. Our God can divide the Red Sea, he can stop the sun in the sky, he can made this universe and everything in it, including us. We can trust him. Christ is powerful and wise. He knows what he is doing, and he is capable of doing anything. We can trust him. In Christ, we can, finally, let go of every defense and follow the advice of our Blessed Mother, “Do whatever he tells you.”

December 6, 2012 - Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27
Matthew 7:21, 24-27

We could just nod along with our Lord’s analogy today, taking the general idea, not searching for the wisdom that our Lord wants to give us, but how much better it is to look deeper and understand the meaning of the image that our Lord gives us!

Both men in the analogy today see the storm coming. Both men are philosophers. The storm is inevitable, wherever you build your house. The wind, the waves, and the rain are on their way. Both men know this, which is why they are building their houses. We live in a stormy world. Jesus does not say that if we do as he says then the storms will not come. Christians do not suffer less in this world than other people. Christians have the same storms in their lives as anyone else does, but we have rock solid foundation that will stand up to the storm.

Both men in the analogy today build their houses against the storm. I have never built a house, but I can easily imagine that it is a complicated and arduous task. It is not the work of a single day. This fact stresses the foolishness of the fool; he has expended great effort and cost to no purpose. They both see the great destroyer, death, approaching, so they build. What house can be built against death? Many can be built but only one will stand. Every philosophy has tried to build something which cannot be conquered by death, whether meaning or pleasures or knowledge. Only the fullness of truth, however, will stand up to the storm when it comes. Every effort which is founded on partial truths and shifting opinions will show itself weak in the end.

It will be insufficient, when the storm arrives, to have built a great house unless it sits on the true foundation. It will be insufficient, when the waves come crashing, to fight them with whatever seemed right to me at the time. God has come to Earth and revealed what is required to stand, revealed a truth that can serve as a rock-solid foundation. Any effort on our part, even one combining all our skill, intelligence, being, strength, and every good intention, will be as useless as no effort, unless it is founded on the truth as revealed to us by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior.

December 5, 2012 - Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-6
Matthew 15:29-37

The Scriptures today teach us how greatly God desires to give us what we need. Before he will give, however, we need to look to him in our need. The people on the Lord's mountain cry out that they looked to God for salvation and he saved them. Sometimes we fail to receive because we fail to ask.

Our desire to thank God is itself his gift, but how can we be grateful for a gift unless we knew our need? If we were perfect, our need would be revealed with the gift; as soon as we received anything from God, we would thank him because we would trust that the gift answered our need, but we fallen humans are ungrateful. It is necessary that we feel the need first if we are to be grateful afterward.

Jesus first heals people who felt their need greatly: the blind, the lame, and sick people of every kind. The crowd is amazed and glorifies God. Then, after three days, when the people had exhausted their supply of food, he sees an opportunity to give to these people what they desire. He loves them. He loves us.

What gift is too great for God to give? The apostles doubt that Jesus can provide food to satisfy such a crowd, yet this miracle is as nothing compared to the power of God and the love of God. What need can be greater than our need to be who God calls us to be, our need for sanctification, for justification, our need to be saints? If only we could feel how lacking and empty and useless our lives are otherwise, surely God would not fail to provide every good gift, to send his Holy Spirit into our hearts.

December 4, 2012 - Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122:1-9
Matthew 8:5-11

Today our reading from Isaiah lists the traditional seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah lists them because he prophesies that Jesus, the green shoot from the stump of Jesse, would possess these gifts. However these gifts can be ours if we will have them. So what are they?

The first gift is wisdom. Wisdom is knowing the best action in any situation. Wisdom helps us make decisions especially in difficult cases. Like the other gifts, there is an earthly form of wisdom which comes with experience, but Isaiah is speaking of something greater, a divine gift unrelated to experience. Even a child can display great wisdom through the Holy Spirit.

The second gift is understanding. Understanding means seeing the truth even when it is hidden. It can be the truth of a difficult Scripture passage. It can be the truth of the dignity of another person. It can be the truth of why God has done something.

The third gift is counsel. This gift allows a person to give good advice. Giving really good advice is very difficult, almost impossible. Counsel requires both wisdom and understanding, and also knowing exactly what words will convey the advice in the most helpful fashion.

The fourth gift is fortitude. Fortitude is the willingness to die in battle. It may be an actual battle, or it may be a battle against our own pride. We want to defend ourselves, but sometimes we must be willing to die.

The fifth gift is knowledge. The gift of knowledge allows us to learn about the creation of the world by God. Through this gift we see the creator in the created things.

The sixth gift is the fear of the Lord. Also called piety, it is the feeling we get when in the presence of the holy. It is what keeps us from chatting in church. When I was a child, I would never have walked into the sanctuary. This fear is a wonderful gift. Life without piety is boring; nothing is special.

The seventh gift is once again the fear of the Lord, but this time we consider it differently. It is the fear of sinning. For an immature person it is the fear of hell. For a more mature person, it is the fear of disappointing our Father. For a very mature person, it is the fear of being separated from God.

These are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. May God give them to his Church in abundance. May God give them to each of us.

December 3, 2012 - Monday of the First Week of Advent

Today's Readings

How marvelous that we have restored to us this verse from the Gospels. The centurion says, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed.” We repeat these words at every Mass, changing “servant” to “soul” because we are not asking for the healing of someone else but for our own healing.

Why do we repeat this at every Mass? It is because we are about to receive Communion, and it is most appropriate that we should say something signifying great faith, for we would not dare approach the sacred sacrifice without faith. Now we could say something like, “Jesus I believe in you” or “Jesus you are the Christ, the Son of God, God himself”, but we say this phrase instead. Why? Because Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, I have not found such faith.” If Jesus considered these words to be the highest expression of faith that he found, why would we say anything else?

We should know what we are saying though, since simply pronouncing the words is not an act of faith unless we mean them. Jesus offers to come heal the centurion’s servant, as he had healed many people. We know that Jesus can heal without touch, even from a far way off. He is God. He can do everything. The centurion is telling Jesus that he knows that the actual coming to the house and laying on of hands is an unnecessary part of the healing. He is telling Jesus that he has faith in Jesus’ power and does not need the external helps to faith.

He is also asserting his faith by acknowledging that he is not worthy to have Jesus enter under his roof. The centurion was an officer in the Roman army. He was a great man as the world judges greatness, yet he judged that Jesus was greater yet. He sees in addition to the power some less definable characteristic: holiness.

In this one sentence the centurion states that Jesus, though he looks like an ordinary human, is nevertheless very powerful and very holy. No wonder then that Jesus praised the faith of this man. When we repeat his words at each Mass before receiving Communion, we acknowledge the same reality: what looks like bread and wine is nevertheless very powerful and very holy.

December 2, 2012 - First Sunday of Advent

Jeremiah 33.14-16
Psalm 25.4-5, 8-9, 10+14 Resp. 1b
1 Thessalonians 3.12-4.2
Luke 21.25-28, 34-36

Advent is a time for time-travel, and our time machine is this church and the readings we will have this season. We have prophecies like our reading from Jeremiah that take us back to that time before Christ came. We stand with the Jewish people, in a country conquered by Rome, waiting for a savior. We wait with the shepherds on the hill. We chat with them about the price of wool these days and sit down to a dinner of shepherd’s pie, yet always with an eye toward the sky waiting for some angels to appear, singing Gloria in excelsis Deo.

We stop by a stable with a pregnant Mary and a watchful Joseph. We know what is going to happen, yet we go back in time with them and wait. We listen to a homily in the synagogue about how the Messiah is going to come and how he will be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, how he will be born of a virgin. We sort of nod our head and smile. We fly across the desert and see some wise men pointing at the sky. One of them is saying to another, “There’s something going on up there in the western sky.”

And while we are going back in time we can go further back and see Isaiah and Malachi prophesying the coming of the Lord. We can stop by and see God’s promises to King David that a son of his would reign forever. We can go back to Adam and Eve in the garden and God’s promise to the serpent that:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.

We also go into the future. The world is ending; stars are falling from the sky. Jesus is coming again in all his power, like lightning that flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other.

Advent is a time for time-travel, and as we do all this time-traveling we begin to see all of history as one grand story. One great play with God as the author and director. For Advent, the idea of the world as a stage and all of history a play in 10,000 acts can be a stunning image. The events of history are not just a random series of unconnected events. All has been foreseen and planned by God before time began; even our sins were taken into account.

Shakespeare wrote:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;

I hear that and I think “merely players”? Merely? I am just happy I got the part. What a glorious thing it is to be an actor on this stage in this history, to be allowed to co-write my small portion of this play with God. And I can choose. My character could be very boring or very interesting.

We actors stand on this stage. Right here. Right now. We do not know what the next scene will be, but we have a script of what our own lines ought to be. It is a rather loose script, just basic instructions for some things to do and some things not to do. Still, the director knows that we will not even follow this easy script and his plan is ready for that. And someday the stage directions will say: “enter stage right, Jesus Christ” and he will make his entrance, and what an entrance it will be! The great curtain that is the sky will be raised and we will finally see the audience. Do not get stage fright just now, but all the angels in heaven and all the demons of hell are watching. And then the world will end. And the new heavens and the new earth will replace the current ones. Are you excited for the end of the world? There are some who are afraid of the end of the world.

The end of the world, for us, ought to be like the end of the school year is for children, like the end of a long hospital stay, like the end of a four hour meeting on a Friday night. I do not deny the importance of what is ending, but I affirm the splendor of what is to come. It is not for the hatred of school that a child celebrates the last day, but for the anticipation of the summer vacation.

When the world ends, all will rise again, to the resurrection of the blessed or of the damned. The blessed will receive back their bodies, glorified bodies, capable of the impossible. The joy of being with God will be the answer to every desire that burns now within us. We will be fulfilled and happy in a way that, on this earth, is only possible in fairy tales. We will live happily ever after.

The whole story of the history of the world is a fascinating story, all the more fascinating because we are in it. And when the world ends, I like to think that we will all sit down to watch the encore performance, (remember we will have forever, what would a few billion years be?). We will have our favorite actors, people who today we call the saints. They will be the movie stars. People like John the Baptist in his camel hair clothes will the leather belt. Eating locusts and honey. People will always be quoting his catchphrase to him when they see him in the street: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” If there are autographs in the new earth, everyone is going want to have his.

And what will we think when we see ourselves on stage? How will all our actions look in the light of that new day? I am not saying that there will not be a thousand excuses for why we did what we did, I am just saying that not every performance will be award winning.

But do you know what kind of story everyone always loves? A Cinderella story. Rags to riches. A lost sheep that gets found and carried back to the fold. The story of a person who lived a normal, regular, mediocre life until one day in December they decided to be a saint. It was not easy. They could not do it without the grace of God. They had to keep making the commitment over and over and over again until it stuck, but they finally let God put them on his shoulders and carry them back to the fold. The house goes wild. Standing ovation.

Best of all, there is God saying “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

December 1, 2012 - Saturday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Revelation 22.1-7
Psalm 95.1-2, 3-5, 6-7ab Resp. 1 Corinthians 16.22b
Luke 21.34-36

This week we have been reading the book of Revelation. We have heard Jesus say many times that he will return. Today we repeat in the Psalm, “Come, Lord Jesus!” And remember the words, “Behold, I am coming soon.” Jesus warns us that the day of his coming will surprise us unless we stay awake in our hearts. Yet here we are, almost two-thousand years since he made this promise, still waiting. Of course, we ourselves ought to be grateful. If he had come any earlier, we would not exist. But now that we have been around for awhile, the few years of our lives seem like a delay.

When is he coming? Is he really coming? Does he even exist? These doubts invade our minds. Back in the garden, God used to visit every evening, yet even that was not enough for us. We are rather demanding creatures. Like children screaming until their parents come for them, we think God is at our beck and call. Certainly Jesus delays his coming, not because he is unable to come nor because he is not there; he delays until the time is right. Just as our existence did not take place until 2000 years after his, so there are people yet to be born before his arrival.

Every day people are born, and every day people come to conversion. Jesus will come when the time is right. We pray, “Come Lord Jesus!”, but not because we want to affect the time of his coming. He will come at the perfect time whether we want it or not. We pray, constantly asking for him to come, because we need the reminder of what we are waiting for. If we forget that he will come, who will welcome him when he arrives? No matter how involved we are with the things of this world in the present moment, we should always be aware that this stuff is temporary, just until he comes. We work hard at our jobs, but just until he comes. We study and prepare for the future, but just until he comes. We carefully budget our money, but just until he comes. In the meantime, we will not have to wait very long. He might not come for ten-thousand more years, but we will go to him before too many years pass. One way or the other, we are going to see him soon.