The Mountain

First Sunday of Advent Reflection 11/27/2022

Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44

Welcome to the beginning of a new year in the Church. That’s right, today, the first Sunday of Advent, is the New Year’s Day for the Catholic Church. The new year starts today, liturgical cycle year A, where the Gospel of Matthew will be read each Sunday and the daily Masses will follow year I for 2023. What does that have to do with anything, one might ask? Well, it’s human nature to be a procrastinator, and we often like to put new, virtuous habits off until the “new year.” Today is that day. Today is New Year’s Day in the Church; and we can even go one step further, this is whole week is week one, so, even if you’re getting a late start like I did this morning, you’re still at the right time to start. Start what, you might ask? Well, let’s look at today’s Mass readings for that answer.

Isaiah tells us that “in days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain…All nations shall stream toward it.” Mountains are something that we can see from afar. From mountaintops we can also see really far as well, sometimes 100 miles or more on a clear day. Isaiah is letting us know that we will see the Lord coming… from afar. We are in the valley at the moment, and we shall climb the Lord’s mountain to go to the Lord’s house. Climbing a mountain takes work, commitment, determination. It takes conditioning. I know I certainly couldn’t do it in the shape I’m in at the moment. This metaphor is meant for you to reflect on the condition of your soul. If you were to start that ascent up the spiritual mountain of heaven, the House of the Lord, how far up would you get before you had an obstacle to cross? With your current conditioning, would you be able to maneuver over, around, or remove the obstacle or would it obstruct your way? You can’t get to the top of the mountain unless you can overcome that obstacle. Yes, this metaphor is still very effective.

The spiritual obstacles in the way are habitual sin. The way we remove these obstacles is to replace sin with virtue. For every sin there is corresponding virtue. So, if you find that “dealing with people and all their glory” invites you to sin, then build up the virtue of charity. Grab one or more of those angels off of the parish Christmas tree and commit to give a gift to a child who has an incarcerated parent. Most of us can’t imagine the situations that these children and families live each day. They’re daily reality is much different than ours. So, put yourself in their shoes for a moment, and be generous. The lesson that your generosity gives is much more than that toy on a list. The humility that the incarcerated parent feels when his/her child receives a gift that he/she could not provide is healing for both that parent and you. Suddenly, that individual or group of people that invited you to sin are different and your compassion for your fellow man has overcome this spat of sinful anger. Remember, God is more powerful than anything or anyone. That also translates to virtue because virtue comes from God. This is what Paul is talking about when he says to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Don virtue instead of sin.

Jesus reminds us that we don’t know when the Son of Man will return, but we need to be prepared. So, as in the metaphor of the mountain, we need to condition ourselves for this climb. We will see Him coming, and if we start then, it will be too late. Start with virtue today. It’s the New Year, it’s time. Your parish will have some sort of charitable works going on. Be involved in that. It will change how you see your fellow man. And it will invite you to repent. This is why your parish will have an Advent Penance service. Go to that too and bring your family. It’s time to start conditioning for that climb. I’ll see you there.

Ms. Renee Valenzuela, OP

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