We start a new year, but does it make any difference. Unlike the secular new year, our liturgical new year starts with little to no celebration. Today is just another day. Is this bad? Does it really matter? In some ways no, but it does highlight the message of our Gospel
This Sunday also signifies the start of the cycle of gospels. This is Year A, and means that our gospel readings will centre mainly around the gospel of Matthew.
For me it means to find a new way of approaching the sermons for the next three years. For the last three years I looked at only the gospel reading. I feel called to look at the second reading as the focus of my sermons, as it reflects on the Gospel.
We start our year in chapter 24 of Matthews gospel. Our beginning starts at the end of Jesus’ ministry. His message in this reading, ‘44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.’ Jesus wants them to be prepared, but gives no time, only the events that will occur.
We are to be ready for Christ’s coming. What does this mean though? Here is where we use Paul’s letter to the Roman’s. Paul starts this section by outlining the commandments and the importance of love. He knows their life style and that they are living with no concern for what is to come. He believed that the end was near and that the believers in Rome needed to live lives that reflected their faith, and to turn away from the socially acceptable behaviours that satisfied the flesh.
I would like to look at this word ‘flesh’. I do not know what you think of when you hear flesh, but because Paul talks about carousing, drunken-ness, sexual immorality and debauchery, I am drawn to think of the immoral things of this world, but I think flesh can include the satisfying of our senses.
Instead Paul calls his readers to clothe themselves with Jesus Christ. Not think about, or pray to, or believe in, but to clothe. Wear Christ. Let Christ fill our senses.
As we come to the preparation for Christmas we are called to get prepared for Jesus’ coming. We need to let go of pleasing our senses and to see life through Jesus’ life. To do this means to see Christmas differently. It is not about the food, gifts, colours and music, but about who we are to the people we meet, and the needs of those we meet. It is about what we can give to the world, in gratitude for what God gave.