• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Friday, 27 November 2020 12:47

First Sunday of Advent - 2020

Written by Fr Larry Nemer SVD


Fr Larry Nemer SVD 150The oldest liturgical cycles in our Church, dating back to the second century, are the Lent/Easter Cycle and the Advent Cycle.  The Advent cycle came at the end of the Roman Year and in its origin had nothing to do with the Birth of Christ.  It was at least a hundred years later that Constantine established the day that was celebrated in honour of the Sun God as the day to celebrate Christ’s birth – December 25th.  Till then the liturgy focused on the end of things – and the need to be watchful since we never knew when it would happen.  In the fourth century the Church also began to use the last two weeks of Advent as a time to look forward to the birth of Jesus.

Today we are no longer concerned about the end of the world.  Ever since the Hubble telescope was put in space we know that the world is not coming to an end any time soon.  In fact the universe is still expanding – God is still creating new things.  But we do know that our life in this world will come to an end.  We don’t know when or how it will happen.  And so we use the beginning of Advent to remind ourselves of this reality which Jesus preached and so to be people who are watching and waiting.

Whenever I would visit the States while I was working in Australia or England, my brother and I would visit the cemetery where our parents and siblings were buried.  He would often say to me: “Larry, God can take me anytime.  I’m ready.  And I have had a good life.”  Whenever he would say this I would be uncomfortable because I wasn’t sure I could make the same statement.  But now, 12 years after his death, I think I am closer to being able to say it.  At least last year when I was having a high risk operation the doctors asked me what I wanted them to do if something went wrong. I found I was able to say: “Do not resuscitate.  If God is calling me I am ready to go. I have had a good life.”

In our seminary there was a priest a few years ahead of me.  He joined the seminary after working for a while and was never able to learn Latin.  But he wanted to go to China and he managed to learn Mandarin while still in the seminary.  By the time he was ordained the China Mission had closed because of the Communist take-over and so he was appointed to the SVD Chinese Parish in Manila.  After a couple of years he came back to the States for further studies.  Just before he finished his studies he developed an aggressive cancer.  One of our priests visited him shortly before he died.  He told the priest: “I had hoped to give many more years of service to the Chinese Community in Manila, but if this is all that God wants of me that is fine with me”.

We can use these first weeks of Advent to follow Jesus’ instruction to “watch” – to remember that our life in this world can come to an end at any time – even when we least expect it.  But our watching need not be filled with anxiety.  We firmly believe, as we say in the Mass for the dead, “life is changed, not ended”.  Advent can be a time when we look back over our life in this world and can give thanks for all the blessing that have come our way.  And we can look forward to our future life, knowing “that the best is yet to come”.