Sunday Sermon for December 1, 2019, the First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Readings: Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

In the readings today we hear about two different events: the coming of the Son of Man and Jerusalem being established as the highest mountain to which all people will come for instruction.  One could say that Jerusalem has already been established as the highest mountain because Jesus is the mountain of God spoken of by the Prophet Daniel.  However, at the end of the vision of Isaiah, we are told that one nation shall no longer raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.  Certainly, we have not seen this.

It is possible these two events could be simultaneous.  Some Fathers of the Church said the Second Coming will not be at the end of the world, but at a midpoint.  Most theologians seem to agree that the Second Coming and the end of the world are going to happen together.  Isaiah seems to suggest that there will be some time after Jerusalem is established as the highest mountain; if this is the case, it cannot refer to the end of the world.

At Fatima, our Lady spoke of the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.  Following this triumph she said there would be a long period of peace and growth for the Church.  Since Jesus is already revealed as the mountain of the Lord to Whom all nations look for instruction, perhaps this is the event prophesied by Isaiah.  Regardless, I think the point Jesus makes in the Gospel is most pertinent: “You must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

While it is true we do not know when these events will happen, this does not mean we cannot know anything about the approximate time.  When we consider what is happening in the Church and in the world right now, it appears we are at a critical moment in history.  I look at this time as being like Babel when all people were one and they joined together to try to topple God.  With modern communication it is now possible to connect people who do not speak the same language.  It is possible to inform people of events from across the world.  It is also possible to misinform and manipulate people by presenting stories in a biased manner or by presenting things that are not true because there is a larger agenda.

Regardless of the situation, we have to cry out with St. Paul: “You know the time; it is the hour for you to awake from sleep.”  St. Paul calls us to throw off the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light.  Even though we have not yet seen the event(s) that will usher in this time of peace foretold by Isaiah, we do know the Lord and we look to Him for instruction.  If we are to conduct ourselves properly as in the day, as St. Paul teaches, then we need to show ourselves as truly Christian people.  We need to be virtuous people; we need to be prayerful people. 

One of the hallmarks of the martyrs is that they were filled with peace and charity.  This can only come from prayer and union with Jesus.  Jesus is the Lord’s mountain and He is the Temple, so let the prophecy of Isaiah be realized in us now: “Let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may instruct us in His ways and we may walk in His paths.”  We have all learned the catechism and we know about Jesus, but do we know Jesus?  We know the truths of the Faith, but do we know Him Who is Truth?  Only this personal knowledge will result in the interior peace and the charity for which the Saints are known.

I said earlier that although we cannot know the exact time of the coming events, we can know the approximate time.  We can look back to the time of our Lord’s birth and again to His crucifixion.  The general time was known to the people of Israel, but they either missed, ignored, or rejected the fulfillment of the events that took place in their day.  Many signs point to this being the time spoken of by our Lady in approved apparitions.  Apparitions at Quito, Fatima, Akita, and perhaps other apparitions point to this time being a time of fulfillment. 

As it was in the days of Noah and in the days of Jesus, many people will be carrying on as if it was just life as normal and will be unprepared.  The day is coming like a thief in the night, so it is time for us to wake from our sleep and put on the Lord Jesus Christ!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit