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Watches of the Night
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"Watches of the Night"

"An Advent of Abounding Love"

          On this first Sunday of Advent we hear St. Paul's First Letter to the Thessalonians. This is the first letter he ever wrote to any of the Christian communities. Paul wrote this letter around the year A.D. 51—only eighteen years after Jesus' death, resurrection, ascension and the sending forth of the holy Spirit at Pentecost. At the time of the writing of this letter Paul believed that Jesus' second coming was imminent (about to occur). Hence, what Paul writes to the Thessalonian community is meant to help prepare them for the "return of the King". He writes:

"May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts to be blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen."

           These words are Paul's prayer for this Christian community whom he holds in his heart. He goes bottom line in his thinking because he believed the end to be near. This is why it is important to pay attention to what he focuses on: Love! As intercessors we need to hear this with the same urgency during this Advent season. This is our Advent faith formation, our strength conditioning, for the Advent of our times. It is the time and season for love. Our call is to perpetuate the love flowing from the pierced Heart of Jesus. This is a vocation to "become love" in the heart of the Church and the world. From Paul's words we note how this love is meant for all. Jesus has come for all. Our love engages the labor of love of intercession for the salvation of all souls.

          The word, abound, that Paul uses means 'to be fully or richly supplied; to be abundantly filled'. To the Philippians Paul writes: "My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). What greater need does our culture and our world have at Advent than to be filled with the love of God? The word, abound, is associated with a group of words that refer to water and getting wet. It's root meaning is 'to flow, wave'. Is it not time for a "new wave"? As Paul will exhort the Romans: "The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rom. 5:5). Jesus promises this superabundance of love through the living waters of the holy Spirit to those who believe in him: "Rivers of living water will flow from within him" (John 7:38). 

         

          Our parched world needs desperately the grace of this spiritual love. Intercessors share in the crucified love of the Lamb so that his love can reach out through our lives to "hydrate" the world: "The love of Christ impels us" (2 Cr. 5:14). This love is meant to drive us forward in prayer in the midst of a host of "Advent Adversities" in our age.

          This Sunday we hear in Luke's gospel Jesus prophecy his second coming and the end of the world. He, too, calls us to stand with strengthened hearts. He reminds us that "People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world"; "the tribulations that are imminent"; and "that day will assault everyone". St. John reminds us, "There is no fear in love" (1 John 4:18). Both Jesus and St. Paul exhort us to stand in a love that is stronger than the toxicity of our times. "Love never fails. Pursue love" (1 Cr. 13:8-14:1).

Questions:

1)   What is my personal Advent "game plan" this year to keep me focused?

2)   What is one "Advent adversity" that I encounter during this season?

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; Psalm 90:14; Eph. 3:19; Phil. 1:9-11

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-EIGHT, TIME TO EXPIATE"

PLEASE VISIT "THIS WEEK'S BURNING ISSUES" ON THE "EVENTS" PAGE

Remember that we must be a praying Church: Am I praying for our Church and our world?

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