Aloha Friday Message – November 29, 2019 – Ready! Set! WAIT!

1948AFC112919 – Ready! Set! WAIT!

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    Matthew 24:42, 44c – 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day [or hour] your Lord is coming.44b for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! May Peace always be with you and may God bless you, Belovéd! This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. I was thinking back about the various series we have done over the years. It was tempting to go back to the Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series and reissue them in edited and updated form. That was contrary to the guidance already in heart and mind for this post – the idea of watchful waiting during Advent. Advent means coming, a beginning, a dawn, a start, an anticipated arrival of an important person, event, or object. For Christians, and especially Catholic Christians, it is the season of reflection, discernment, and anticipation for the birth of Jesus – Christmas.

“But everyone loves Christmas, and we all look forward to it. We know ‘Jesus IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON,’ but there is so much more to anticipate with joy!” Yes, that is certainly true. We all have more than one reason to look forward to Christmas; not all of us, though, are ready for the Season of Advent. This particular season of Advent is the beginning of Cycle A of the Liturgy.

Cycle A is essentially a process of preparing us for baptism and for understanding the principals behind our baptismal vows. Most of the Gospel readings are from the Gospel of Matthew. The first Sunday of Advent (which is the first Sunday of the liturgical year) uses Matthew’s account of Jesus’ warning to be vigilant because we will not know the day or hour of his return. Matthew’s Gospel covers Jesus’ ministry with emphasis on compassion and forgiveness – Mercy. Its focus is on the early Christian community among the Jews. Matthew portrays Jesus as “the New Moses,” leading his people out of the wilderness of sin and into the Promised Land of The Kingdom of God. Matthew makes sure they (and we) fully understand that Jesus is a man, a Jewish man, a son of Abraham and Israel who is the True Son of God. In this Gospel, Jesus’ followers frequently beg him for mercy. Jesus takes the Jewish leaders – the Scribes and Pharisees – to task for failing to show mercy. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us, his Disciples “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (See Matthew 5:7). Because of this theme of compassion and mercy leading to forgiveness, I’m going to include a link at the end of every Aloha Friday Message during this Advent season for Liturgical Year 2020, Cycle A (← Check it out!) that will take you to a previous lesson on Mercy that is posted on the Catholic 365 website.

There you have it, the background for the four Sundays of this Advent season. For each Sunday we will follow our customary practice of choosing a key verse from the readings, amplifying the meanings and background of that passage, and then – at the end of the message – there will be a “supplementary link” to allow us to reflect on the importance, the effects, and the reality of God’s Mercy in our own lives. We all know (or should know) that it is only the Mercy of Grace that makes it possible to be prepared for the return of Christ. As we prepare to welcome Christ the King coming as a baby during Advent, we also prepare – at least in our hearts – for the day or hour our Lord is coming, “for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” For the past 2000 years we have been waiting. During the first century after Jesus established the Church, people really believed that his coming back was imminent – during their lifetimes. Hence, the Apostle Paul frequently warned the early Church to stay vigilant, to be faithful to the Apostolic Gospel, and to be ready … to WAIT. That is what we are told to do – to watch and wait. Let’s take a quick scriptural survey of WAIT.

Psalm 10:2-11 The Psalmist cries out to God about how evil people always seem to prosper and even though they say “there is no God,” God sees them and gives them ample time to repent and claim his Mercy. Take a moment this week to read that passage and see if it doesn’t sound like what we hear in the news almost every day.

Psalm 27:14 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him; do not fret over those who prosper in their way, over those who carry out evil devices. (Follow up with that passage from Psalms 10)

Psalm 130:5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

Psalm 59:9 O my strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God, are my fortress.

Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

And finally, Psalm 123:2 As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.

We wait with “constant vigilance” for the coming of Jesus first as a baby in a manger, then as the King of Kings ascending the Throne of the Cross, and now – today and until “as long as it takes” – we wait for the day and the hour he will return in Glory. Let the evil one prosper and scoff. WE know how to wait and why we’re waiting. Here’s why:

2 Peter 3:3-9 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.
   But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you*, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. * Some translations read “on your account,” or “for your sake” and YES, he is coming back!

We can find that ability to wait patiently in watchful waiting by knowing he is coming back – not just returning – coming back – and bringing judgment with him: They should also be strengthened by the assurance of his foreordained parousia*, and by the fruits of faith that they have already enjoyed (Hebrews 10:19–39).

*This word is παρουσία. The word parousia is found in the following verses: Matthew 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8, 9; James 5:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:2, Philippians 1:26

He’s not waiting for someone else. He’s not waiting for everyone else. He may be waiting for anyone else, but the bottom line is, he’s waiting for me, so I’d best get my act together, right? And here’s the thing: I know – really, really know it’s worthwhile and doable because Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God! (See Luke 1:37) Not even me, because I have a great reason to wait. Jesus is coming. You know, He just might be on that Slow Train Coming (↔ Music Link) ’cause This train (↔ Music Link) is bound for Glory, and Belovéd I got my ticket to ride! You’ll find me at the depot waiting, watching ’round the bend.

Here are the links for the Mercy Series I mentioned:

Aloha Friday Message Mercy Series

Mercy Series – Part 1 of 4

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Please pray with us here at Share-a-Prayer.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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