From the Pastor – November 27, 2016

short Christian prayersTherefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. (Mt 24:42-44)

A lot of times, the analogies of Jesus are just that – analogies. But sometimes they hit closer to home. At times, we have had problems with security at St. Stephen Church. We have had incidents where people have tried to get into our church by breaking door handles and even using pry-bars. Every time we put up our pro-life signs in front of the church, someone steals them. We’ve had chalices and even a collection bag stolen. And then there’s the obvious feeling of anxiety and anger that someone would try and break into a church. In truth, there’s also a feeling of helplessness, in that it’s hard to believe that this can happen so close to a police station. In the end, it really remains one of those things over which we have no control. These “real life” experiences (and I’m sure many of us have had the experience of being burglarized or robbed) give us real life context toward understanding the words of Jesus. We believe in the Second Coming of Christ. As the Apostle’s Creed says, Jesus: ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” It could happen in a month, and it could happen in 10,000 years. We know not the day or the hour. But we’re called to be ready for it.

In a sense, we “ready” ourselves for the Second Coming in many ways, primarily by experiencing the presence of Christ in His Word, in the Sacraments, in the Church, and in our service to others. By doing so, we assure ourselves that we will recognize Jesus when He comes again. But the Advent period is a time when the Church calls us to be particularly attentive to our sense of expectation of the coming of Christ. During Advent we prepare to celebrate the first coming of Christ in Bethlehem, when He came in humility, as a means of preparing ourselves for His Second Coming in glory. Just as we might take precautions at St. Stephen’s to make sure dark areas are lit with floodlights, security cameras are working and doors are locked, we might also try to shine light on the devil through making a good Confession which provides us with the grace to lock sin out of the temple of our body and soul.

Real life reminders about crime (a “thief in the night”) provided the first listeners of Jesus with real warnings about something more important: the real life state of their souls. They do the same for us, 2000 years later. Let’s stay awake!
(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty