In the thirty-fifth month of the presidency of Donald J. Trump, during the papacy of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, in the latter stages of the the historic athletic supremacy of Thomas Brady and William Belichick… when the Boston Red Sox were the reigning World Series Champions… we all came together on a chilly morning for Mass on this, the Second Sunday of Advent, of the year 2018.
Have you ever done that? Told a story and placed it at a specific point in time? You say something like: “Oh, I remember that that was the day after such-and-such happened” or “that was the same year that so and so did this particular thingamajig”…
By telling your story and giving it historical markers, you do just that… you place it at a point in time, thus giving it some added measure of credibility. It seems less like myth or a figment of your imagination if you give it real world and well known points of historical reference.
This is precisely what the Gospel writer, Luke, is doing here. He places Jesus, as a historical figure, right there in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar and during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. This gives the story more credibility and establishes the fact that Jesus existed at a very specific time and in a very specific place.
As do all of us. We are here and now… in this very moment and in the very place.
But we’re more too. Our faith tells us that we are more than relative to a specific point in time. The very final time Jesus addressed his disciples, the very final words he spoke to them were: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 20). Always. Accompaniment. Forever.
Our faith tells us that eternity is available to us as well. So, we are fixed in a moment in time and we are timeless, both not of our own accord, but because of the one who came to save us and the grace of his loving, creator Father.
We do well to remember this as it’s incredibly easy to focus on what we see and what we feel, the stresses we encounter, the pleasures we experience, the pains we feel. How easy it is to be fixed at a point in time, to focus on only this. Advent is a time when we are reminded of the importance of looking beyond the here and now. Remembering that a life solely focused on that is one that prepares us poorly for what it will take to experience Jesus’ promise of a forever accompaniment.
And just as we are fixed in a moment and more than that, we have to keep our eyes on the road ahead and set on the distant horizon of our destination. If we only look at what’s right in front of us, we run the risk of getting lost. If we only focus on the eventual location, we might fall in a ditch or twist our ankle in a pothole.
I have three Advent questions for you to consider. Questions you should ask yourselves when you have a quiet moment. Not while you’re Christmas shopping at the mall or watching the Patriots game… but in a quiet moment. Find a quiet moment.
The three questions are:
- What have I done today to prepare for the coming of Jesus?
- Would the people who know me best say that I live mostly for the here and now?
- What one change do I need to make in my life that will help me to live for eternity?
Next Saturday (December 15, 2018), here at Blessed Sacrament in the Community Room downstairs, between 9AM and noon, we are going to prayerfully consider questions such as these during our annual Advent Morning of Prayer. We are going to ponder this…
… and it would be great to see you there.
In the mean time, try not to twist your ankle in a pothole.