Wednesday, November 29, 2017

First Sunday of Advent Year B

Readings: Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7; 1 Cor. 1:3-9; Mark 1:1-8

An Advent people; watching, waiting and prepared to receive the best gift God can ever give. But first a story. Some years ago there was some breaking news on TV that to me seemed to be a wonderful example of being spiritually prepared. The news was about a man in Memphis, Tennessee who accidentally walked into a store during a robbery. The gunman pointed his pistol at him and ordered him to hand over his money. The man responded calmly, “Go ahead and shoot. I just had my prayers and Bible reading.” The robber was confused by that reaction, and the man walked away without a single shot. I have to admit that I probably would have handed over my money, but I do admire that man’s courage – and above all his apparent readiness to meet the Lord. That is what Jesus tells us today. Be prepared. Be alert and watchful. On this First Sunday of Advent, we begin a journey of preparedness; a journey to becoming truly an advent people; a people actively engaged in their faith and hope for the one who comes; a journey that leads us to understand why Jesus comes into the world and into our lives. During these four weeks of Advent, the Sunday homilies will focus on how you and I can become more involved in our parish life, and so be transformed as we wait for the coming of the Lord at Christmas. The homilies will make use of ideas from Matthew Kelly’s book: The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic. The reflections and stories in this book are captivating, engaging and transforming.

In the Gospel from Mark, Jesus offers a brief parable highlighting the importance of being watchful and spiritually prepared. The point of the parable is that you and I as disciples and stewards of Jesus Christ are called to be the best version of ourselves, and so be transformed into more dynamic and more engaged Catholics. Over the next four weeks towards Christmas, the readings will focus attention on spiritual transformation. As Matthew Kelly will propose, the best way to do that is by making use of four easy ways that can transform your life as a Catholic. The four ways are prayer, study, generosity (in time, talent and treasure) and evangelization. These four ways can be a game changer for your life. In the coming weeks, the homilies will guide us on how our lives can be transformed by doing one thing at a time. Matthew Kelly asks: “How do you eat an elephant?” Bit by bit! The first question we need to ask ourselves is, how is my spiritual health? To head towards being not just spiritually healthier, but the best spiritual health, you and I need a routine of 10 minutes daily. Can you find 10 minutes? I think I can. Prayer, reading and living my faith can lead to spiritual transformation and the best spiritual health. So what is the take away message? 1) Like the man in the story, one becomes a dynamic and engaged Catholic through prayer, study of their faith, but also through generosity in time, talent and treasure, and by sharing their faith. 2) These four ways can indeed transform your life to be the best version of yourself; to be more engaged and dynamic in parish life. 3) We become the best version of ourselves by doing one thing at a time; by taking baby steps. At the end of the day, spiritual transformation is not something we achieve but a gift of the Holy Spirit. So we need to let go and allow the Holy Spirit guide our lives.

©2018 John S. Mbinda

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