Sunday Reflections

The Word Exposed with Cardinal Tagle

The beauty of Christmas shines through in the sharing of small gestures of genuine love. It is not alienating, it is not superficial, it is not evasive

Pope Francis

Third Sunday of Advent

Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel

Gaudete” Sunday (Gaudete = Rejoice!) is the third Sunday of Advent, so called because this day expresses the joy of anticipation at the approach of the Christmas celebration; we are invited to rejoice because the Lord’s coming is near. It is in this joyful atmosphere, that we continue to contemplate the figure of the Forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, as we prepare ourselves to welcome the Christ who comes.

As underlined in the previous commentary, the Evangelist Luke presents to the readers the particular figure of the Baptist as the one sent; he is “proclaimer/preacher of the Word” of God. Indeed, all his activities are summed up in a sentence that we heard at the end of today’s Gospel: “Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people,” that is to say, he announced/ proclaimed the “gospel”. Jesus, then is the “mightier” one, who comes to proclaim the Good News in its fullness to the people, and His disciples are to do the same, following the exhortation of their Master and Evangelizer par excellence.

The short conversation between the Baptist and the crowds, which Saint Luke offers us almost as something emblematic of the “evangelical” teaching of the Forerunner of Christ, highlights an important aspect (not to be overlooked) in the proclamation of the Gospel by the “missionaries” of God. It is about justice, understood from an existential-spiritual point of view and not so much from a juridical perspective. As such, justice means the right thing to do in life before God, in order to welcome the One who comes. There is need to examine it in detail, listening to the voice of the Spirit who speaks today to the Church and to us, her children.

1. John’s message is presented through three answers and a final statement. In his three answers, John gives a triple instruction to the single question that is asked three times by different groups: “What should we do?” (vv.10,12,14) It should be noted that this question will again resonate in the mouth of the people in the face of the preaching of Christ (Lk 10:25; 18:18) and the apostles (Acts 2:37; 16:30). This emphasizes the common character of the Baptist’s mission and of the Christian one, which must necessarily provoke a serious revision of life. Each person is compelled to ask themselves they are to ‘do’ as a response to the divine message heard. However, John constructed the discourse within the context of the traditional and perceived threat of divine punishment: final judgment - as the reason for conversion - in the style of the prophets of Israel. The Christian way (of Christ and his disciples), on the other hand, highlights the positive aspect of God’s fidelity in fulfilling the promise of salvation to the world. However, both serve to exhort listeners to rethink their life before God.

It is therefore necessary to expand on the three instructions of John in today’s Gospel to review our behavior. The first recommendation is addressed to crowds, that is to say, to all listeners: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” (v.11) In preparation for the encounter with the Lord who comes, each person is called to respond to the needs of the other, to share with him/her the goods received from God. The exhortation is simple, concrete. It must be accepted in its simplicity, without falling into the elaboration of some general ethical principle on social sharing or on the virtue of generosity. Simply put: “go and do likewise” (Lk 10:37), to use the very simple and concrete words of Jesus! The Baptist’s recommendation echoes the fundamental message of the prophets, in particular the beautiful one of Is 58:7-9 on the attitude of fasting and penance pleasing to God, which is worth rereading in full: “[The fasting that the Lord called for] is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, / bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; / clothing the naked when you see them, / and not turning your back on your own flesh?” (Is 58:7). It should be emphasized here, as in the text of the Baptist, that no one is expected to be too heroic in this self-sacrifice for the neighbor; a simple act of mercy is enough, if you have! And this would already be enough for an evangelical preparation of the soul for the Lord who comes, as the prophet Isaiah proclaims following the passage just quoted: “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, / and your wound shall quickly be healed; / your vindication shall go before you, / and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. / Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: ‘Here I am!’” (Is 58:8-9). One could continue saying: He will come to save you and you will be ready to welcome the salvation given to you!

In this regard, we must never forget the rhetorical question of St. John the apostle to his community: “If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him?” (1Jn 3:17). It is an important text, also mentioned by Pope Francis, to urge everyone to listen to the cry of the poor in need (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 187). This is especially true for pastoral and missionary workers, so as not to fall into a practical relativism “more dangerous than doctrinal relativism. It has to do with the deepest and inmost decisions that shape their way of life. This practical relativism consists in acting as if God did not exist, making decisions as if the poor did not exist, setting goals as if others did not exist, working as if people who have not received the Gospel did not exist” (Evangelii Gaudium 80). We must never forget that Jesus himself in one of his parable identifies with the hungry and the naked, and when He comes again to judge the living and the dead, will settle accounts with all of us based on how we have lived. May all of us receive His blessing on that day: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” (Mt 25:34-36).

2. To return to todays’ Gospel, the second recommendation of the Baptist is even more concrete, and is addressed to the tax collectors, those who collected taxes from fellow Jews for the Roman government. Tax collectors were exposed to the temptation to “exaggerate” (overcharge) for their own interest. They were considered by the people of the time as “bad / corrupt” by nature, like sinners, as we can see from the gospels (cf. Lk 5:30; 7:34; 15:1; 18:13). The Baptist exhorts them to be honest: “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed” (v.13). It could not be any more simple than that! However, it is sometimes very difficult for someone in a company or business, where everyone else does the opposite! And sometimes you can hardly do just a few small initial steps not knowing what will be next (continue in the new life or return to “normal”). Nevertheless, this first step is desirable and necessary to inaugurate a new stage in life with the Lord. For those who are thinking about this, here is the sincere appreciation-encouragement of Pope Francis: “A small step, in the midst of great human limitations, can be more pleasing to God than a life which appears outwardly in order but moves through the day without confronting great difficulties” (Evangelii Gaudium 44).

This ‘small step’ forward is also advisable for the third group, that of the soldiers, who question the Baptist. In fact, they are given a specific imperative: “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages” (v.14b). The first part spontaneously brings to mind the so-called Golden Rule, formulated in Tobias’s exhortation to his son: “Do to no one what you yourself hate” (Tb 4:15). This is the principle, present in other religious cultural traditions, that is confirmed by Jesus in a positive form - as the quintessence of the Law and the Prophets: “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets” (Mt 7:12). The second part of the imperative, on the other hand, suggests a certain similarity between the usual situation of the soldiers and that of the tax collectors, in which everyone always tries to “supplement” the salary, the wages, through extra “services” for the people! (This affinity of the two groups is also highlighted by the beginning of the soldiers’ question: “And we, [what shall we do?]” with an emphatic “and” that is to say “even us”). Therefore, these recommendations are not so easy to follow – a degree of effort, sometimes enormous, is required in an environment where “everyone does it,” with extortion, violence, corruption. However, it takes a small step forward to prepare life for the final encounter with the One who comes. And the honest life that is recommended to soldiers certainly applies to many today as well.

3. The closing statement of the Baptist, reveals once again the identity of the Lord Jesus who is described with three characteristics in relation to John: “one mightier,” “the baptizer with Holy Spirit and fire,” and “the agent of the final harvest.” The last image evokes a certain fear in the face of that terrible “day” of the Lord, especially with that “unquenchable fire” for “the chaff!” The language, however, is always that of the apocalyptic-prophetic tradition of Judaism, at times used by Jesus himself, for eternal damnation (cf., e.g., Mc 9:43). This insistence is, however, very different from that of St. Paul in the second reading, who repeatedly recommends us to “rejoice”, because “the Lord is near!” This emphasis on joy springs from the unique, practical and personal experience that St. Paul had in his life with the merciful, crucified and risen Jesus; a relationship non shared by John the Baptist. However, it does not exclude the truth of the terrible “unquenchable fire,” supported by the Forerunner of Jesus, which follows some vision of the prophets of Israel. It is, therefore, necessary to rejoice, but “in the Lord,” and not in the world; to maintain true joy, which finds the peace of God and in God “in every circumstance.” Whoever has this joy of Christ in the heart, “beyond all intelligence” will be a true witness of Christ to all: amiable, kind, cordial. He will carry on the mission of evangelizing, that is, of proclaiming the Gospel of God to everyone, as the Baptist already did with courageous words and actions.

Useful insights:

“The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew.” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 1)

“Of course, all of us are called to mature in our work as evangelizers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel. In this sense, we ought to let others be constantly evangelizing us. But this does not mean that we should postpone the evangelizing mission; rather, each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives.” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, n. 121)

“The spirit of benevolence truly makes us similar to God, because to be benevolent is like giving that which is the best […]. This must be the characteristic of us missionaries, faithful imitators of Jesus, supremely and divinely good, pleasant, friendly, merciful and kind. For us, being benevolent is a great necessity.” (Paolo Manna, Apostolic Virtues, translated from Italian by Fr. Steve Baumbusch, PIME, New York 2009, p. 104)

Second Sunday of Advent

The Lord has done great things for us

Today, we continue our journey “in the expectation of His coming”. The readings and liturgical prayers of this second Sunday of Advent provide some insights into Christian hope and encourage us to renew our commitment in this season of Advent. In this context, we are presented with someone whose way of life and message fervently prepared for the coming of the Lord. This is John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, “prophet of the Most High” (Lk 1:76) whom the evangelist John called “a man sent from God” (cf. Jn 1:6). He is the missionary, the one sent by God to testify to the Light that is Christ Jesus, Word made man (cf. Jn 1:7-8). He is someone that today’s missionary disciples of Christ can emulate as they bear witness to Christ and prepare the way of the Lord.

In the short passage of the today’s Gospel, the characteristics of the “missionary” John the Baptist can be grasped through three key expressions: “the word of God came to John,” “John went throughout the whole region,” and “proclaiming a baptism of repentance” (Lk 3:2b-3).

1. “The word of God came to John.” The beginning of John the Baptist’s activities is presented by Luke in a very solemn way. God, himself, gives John a mandate to act: “The word of God came [literally happened] to John.” This is the expression found in the account of the vocation of prophets like Jeremiah (cf. Jer 1:2, and even verbatim in the Greek text of the LXX of Jer 1:1) and Ezekiel (cf. Ez 1:3). It is almost the formula of the prophetic investiture: The word of God [/of Lord] was [/happened/came to] on the prophet and sent him to begin to announce to the peoples what he had heard from God. Every prophet of God is therefore His special one sent to the people to always speak in the name of God and of the things, God asks him to say! He is the missionary of God. So it was with John the Baptist. He is solemnly presented as the prophet elected in the fulfillment of history. Later, he will be praised by Jesus himself as “among those born of women, no one is greater than John,” “more than a prophet,” “messenger” of God (cf. Lk 7:27-28; Mt 11:9-11). The particular mention of the “desert” as a place of vocation and the beginning of the Baptist’s activity is not just to mark the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic announcement (cf. Lk 3:4; Is 40:3) or to recall the experience of exodus. It makes us imagine a general spiritual picture of the time and to perceive a connection between the Baptist’s entry on the scene and the eschatological renewal of the people. God’s prophet-missionary almost always acts in the desert, even when he does so in a overcrowded city such as Shanghai, New Delhi, Lagos, or Sao Paulo! He is not particularly intimidated or deterred by this fact, because he knows that he is there not of his own will but for a mission entrusted to him by the Word of God!

2.John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan.” Although the original Greek verb means “came”, its English translation with “went throughout” gives emphasis to the characteristic of the Baptist’s activities with the specific description of the extent of his ministry: “whole region of the Jordan,” underlining precisely the word “whole.” We know that the Baptist in fact carries out his activity around the Jordan River, where he could administer baptism by immersion in water. There are no further linguistic clues or clearer words. Therefore, it seems to us that here Saint Luke wanted to describe the action of the Baptist as that of an itinerant, almost on the model of Jesus (cf. Mk 1:39; Mt 4:23) and His disciples, who, sent by God to mission, will go throughout all towns and places to prepare the visit of their Master (cf. Lk 10:1).

Luke’s vision of the Baptist’s itinerancy is highly suggestive and enlightening from a missionary perspective. Every prophet-missionary of God is called to be dynamic: never to remain static. He is called to “go throughout”, to always go where the Word of God sends him. Just as John the Baptist has accomplished his “going out” and his continuous going throughout the whole region to prepare “the way of the Lord” for the local people, every Christian is called to go out and become the missionary forerunner of Christ everywhere (even outside his native country!), and especially in this waiting time for the Lord’s coming. In this way, let us help each other, in all places where we are, to better prepare ourselves to welcome Christ when He comes.

3. [John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,] proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” The presentation of John the Baptist’s actions on the Christian model reaches its climax here. Indeed, his “proclaiming” a baptism of repentance (Lk 3:3) is echoed in the description of the activities of Jesus and His apostles. The proof is that, afterwards, Saint Luke did not hesitate to summarize all the actions of John the Baptist with a meaningful phrase: “Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people” (Lk 3:18). “Preaching” and “proclaiming good news (= evangelizing)” are the actions of Christ and of His disciples sent by Him (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Mk 1:14-15; Mt 4:23). Even the content of the proclaiming and his “preaching”, which urges repentance (metanoia) for the forgiveness of sins, resembles that proclaimed by Christ (cf. Lk 5:32; Mk 1:15) and subsequently by the apostles (cf. Acts 2:38). The only difference is that the Jesus insisted on the proper realization of the Kingdom of God, and on the gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Baptist, in Luke, reveals himself to be the only prophet of God who is at the same time already a “Christian” missionary. From his “cry” every Christian missionary of today will now be able to see him as a useful model for his own life and mission.

John the Baptist’s message, while emphasizing the need for a serious preparation for the Lord, who will surely come to judge the world, is essentially a message of hope. This message, moreover, is underlined in all the prophets of the Old Testament, in particular, in the passage from Baruch, chosen for the first reading. Baruch invites Jerusalem to take off the robe of mourning and misery to welcome the God who “is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, / with his mercy and justice for company.” Saint Luke the evangelist underlines this with the quotation on the special fulfillment of the ancient oracles of the prophet Isaiah with the apex in the final statement that we heard in this Sunday’s Gospel: “all flesh [sarx] shall see the salvation of God” (Lk 3:6; cf. Is 40:5). This affirmation emphasizes the universalism of divine grace, a theme so dear to St. Luke. Furthermore, it is linked to the person of Jesus who was revealed as the “salvation of God” (cf. Lk 2:30; and Acts 28:28).

Referring to the coming of Jesus, salvation of God, a serious commitment of interior and exterior preparation is certainly required, as recalled by the evocative images of the preparation of the “way” corresponding to concrete moral and social actions. This is made explicit by the Baptist himself in the next passage of Luke’s Gospel that we will meditate on next Sunday. For the moment, what requires our attention is the peculiar form of the sentences without the indication of the protagonist: “Every valley shall be filled, / and every mountain and hill shall be made low.” Who will do these things? Obviously, from the preceding imperative “make straight his paths” people can legitimately be seen as those who perform these actions. However, the use of verbs in the passive form implies God as the implicit agent. Hence under divine action, rather than human work, “The winding roads shall be made straight, / and the rough ways made smooth,” as confirmed by the prophet Baruch in the first reading: “For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, / and that the age-old depths and gorges / be filled to level ground.” The miracle of the straightened and leveled ways, of the “highways” in the desert, belongs above all to the grace of God, who in any case asks for the collaboration of man with an open heart to welcome Him.

And this is the message, indeed the good news, the Gospel, to be announced by the Baptist together with all the prophets sent by Lord. This will also be the message that every Christian, missionary prophet of Christ, will make to resound even now, especially in today’s world, full of winding and rough ways, ravines, mountains, hills. As Pope Francis reminds us, this is not the time to condemn, but to proclaim always and to everybody “a year of grace” (Lk 4:19) from the “great and merciful” God. This is despite, and perhaps precisely because, this “crooked and perverse generation” (Phil 2:15) continues to live as if God did not exist. After all, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son […] God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (Jn 3:16-17). And all of us, Christians, are sent by Christ as the Father had sent Him. Let us, therefore, proclaim again and again, as the Forerunner of Christ, without weariness, the message of hope from God of love and mercy who is coming. Let us announce it first to ourselves and then to others, so that we can all prepare ourselves in the best way to welcome the Lord, who comes with His grace.

Useful insights:

“We will entrust the life of the Church, all humanity, and the entire cosmos to the Lordship of Christ, asking him to pour out his mercy upon us like the morning dew, so that everyone may work together to build a brighter future. How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God! May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, n. 5)

“The Church is commissioned to announce the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the heart and mind of every person. The Spouse of Christ must pattern her behaviour after the Son of God who went out to everyone without exception. In the present day, as the Church is charged with the task of the new evangelization, the theme of mercy needs to be proposed again and again with new enthusiasm and renewed pastoral action. It is absolutely essential for the Church and for the credibility of her message that she herself live and testify to mercy. Her language and her gestures must transmit mercy, so as to touch the hearts of all people and inspire them once more to find the road that leads to the Father” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, n. 12)

“The first mission […] was entrusted by the Eternal Father to His only-begotten Son when He sent Him from Heaven to redeem the world. Our Lord always speaks of Himself as of one sent by the Father.” (P. Manna, The Conversion of the Pagan World. A Treatise upon Catholic Foreign Missions, translated and adapted from the Italian of rev. Paolo Manna, M. Ap. by rev. Joseph F. McGlinchey, d.d., Boston, Society for the propagation of the Faith 1921, pp. 3-4)

First Sunday of Advent

“Strengthen and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus”

Jer 33:14-16 • Ps 25:1-10 • 1Thes 3:9-13 • Lk 21:25-36

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul, my God, in you I trust

1. The exhortation of Saint Paul the apostle in the second reading summarizes well the commitment of the faithful in this time of expectation of the coming of the Lord: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all […], so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones” (1Thes 3:12-13). These are the words in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians. This letter, in the opinion shared by exegetes, is presented as the first writing of the New Testament dated in the 50’s, that is to say scarcely twenty years after Christ’s departure. The expectation therefore of the Lord’s return was very high among the first Christians, especially among those in Thessalonica, north of Greece, one of the first European cities evangelized by Paul with his companions on his first missionary journey. They were all zealous in the hope of the final salvation that will come with the return of Jesus at the end of the world, as He Himself had promised according to what is also read in today’s Gospel (cf. Lk 21:27).

This strong expectation can still be there today, a call and a teaching on a timeless truth: there will be the end of everything and the Lord Jesus will come. For us Christians of the Third Millennium, the fundamental question is: “Do we still await the coming of the Lord with fervor? Or in general are we still waiting for Him? Do we sometimes still look at Heaven to see Jesus’ arrival on the clouds?” Given that, so far, His second coming has not yet come true, we certainly do not lack patience after two thousand years of waiting! Indeed, perhaps we have reached the point of not thinking about it anymore, dealing only with the things of this world. “In the meantime, he will come!” – someone says – “and when? Only God knows, and so I keep doing my own thing!” Perhaps we lack a little nostalgia for the presence of the Lord Jesus, a state of mind that His first apostles, those sent- missionaries, intensely experienced to the point of it rubbing off onto their listeners. It is time to recover this healthy nostalgia for the Lord that comes from the deep friendship with Him. The point is crucial for the mission. Only the Christian, who always carries Jesus in his heart, burns with the desire to meet Him and thus yearns for His promised coming. And only that Christian feels within the urge to share this sweet friendship with Christ with others. That Christian becomes a missionary of Christ by nature.

2. The question for us today remains the same: “You who call yourself a Christian and are a disciple of Christ, do you yearn for that final redemption that He brings?” For those who do not feel anything like “a dead man walking,” the good Lord also leaves some admonitions in the Gospel with a direct but benevolent tone, followed by a concrete recommendation.

First, the warning: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise” (Lk 21:34). It is a warning to those who do not live in expectation! Beware of hearts drowsy from worldly matters: “from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” The first two vices listed are often denounced in biblical teaching (cf. Rom 13:13; Gal 5:21; also Is 24:20 LXX), instead the “anxieties of daily life” are part of the things that, according to the explanation of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke prevent the seeds, fallen among the thorns, from growing fully (cf. Lk 8:14). All three together describe a practical life without God, as in the days of Noah and Lot, when « they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building » (cf. Lk 17:26-30).

The exhortation then follows. Jesus indicates the medicine against the lukewarmness of a heart tired of waiting for the things of the Lord and His kingdom: “Be vigilant at all times and pray” (Lk 21:36). The exhortation reflects the words of Jesus on the need to be watchful in Mk 13:33, and that addressed directly to St. Peter the Apostle: “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test” (Mk 14:38; cf. v. 35). “To watch and pray” go together and are interchangeable: to watch means to pray and vice versa. The distinctive detail in Jesus’ admonition in Lk is the insistence on the time of prayer/vigil: “at all times”, as already seen elsewhere in the Third Gospel (cf. Lk 18:1,7-8). St. Paul, therefore, will recommend to the Thessalonians who were fervently awaiting the Lord’s return: “Pray without ceasing” (1Thes 5:17). And he will also repeat to the Romans: “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Rom 12:12).

3. Therefore, the constant and unceasing prayer, at all times, becomes a fundamental and indispensable means to be discovered in order to renew the zeal of life, waiting for the Lord’s arrival. This is true for every Christian, baptized, missionary. In this regard, we should remember the memorable words of Pope Francis in the video message on the occasion of the official opening of the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies (28/5/2018): “Prayer is the first ‘missionary work’ — the first! — that every Christian can and must do. It is also the most effective, even if this cannot be measured.”

With unceasing and ardent prayer for the coming of the Kingdom, every Christian becomes a missionary, even though not everyone has the opportunity to go to a foreign land to proclaim the Gospel (as in the case of St. Therese of Lisieux, patroness of the missions!). With constant and fervent prayer, every missionary fulfills even more the mission of Christ, who Himself constantly prayed in communion with God the Father. The culmination of the prayer vigils is precisely the Eucharistic celebration which, as explained, is missionary by nature, because in it the mission of Christ is mystically fulfilled in the compassionate offering of His body and blood and the mission of the Christians continues, sent by Christ Himself and His Church.

Why then, especially during the period of Advent, do we not make prayers and prayer vigils more often for the missions and the Mission of the Church? Such acts will help us to be vigilant, indeed, fervent in waiting, to strengthen hearts; they will remind us of the duty to walk in holiness towards “that day” of final salvation with the Lord; and they will kindle the enthusiasm of witnessing the dead and risen Christ to all, donec veniat “until He comes.” Amen. Maranathà!

Useful insights:

“The Eucharist itself which is about to be celebrated is, of course, the most intense preparation the community has for the Lord’s coming, for it is itself his coming. In the preface that begins the Eucharistic Prayer on this Sunday, the community presents itself before God as ‘we who watch.’ We who watch ask that already today we may sing the hymn of all the angels: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts.’ In proclaiming the Mystery of Faith we express the same spirit of watching: ‘When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, O Lord, until you come again.’ In the Eucharistic Prayer the heavens are rent open and God comes down. In holy Communion the heavens are rent open and God comes down. The one whose body and Blood we receive today is the Son of Man who will come in a cloud with power and great glory. With his grace delivered in holy Communion it may be hoped that each one of us can exclaim, ‘I will stand erect and raise my head, because my redemption is at hand.’” (Homiletic Directory, n. 86)

“He ‘prays without ceasing’ who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer (Origen, De orat. 12: PG 11, 452c.).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2745)

“It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop,… while buying or selling,… or even while cooking (St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2: PG 63, 585).” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2743)

“God tells us through the mouth of the missionary who prays.” (PAOLO MANNA, Virtù Apostoliche, Milan 1944, p. 197)