In Advent, we learn again of God coming to us. “Advenio” in Latin. He comes. Our God comes to us. Several years ago, after 9/11, as a Deacon, I did a lot of work with Muslims on behaf of our Bishop. I worked in their mosques and with their Imams. I learned their concept of God. God, for them, never comes to them. They must go out to God to pray. They take off their shoes and kneel before him as they attempt to go to Him. For Muslims, God does not live in our world. God has no sons. God is not a Trinity. God is “out there”. He only speaks to us through “prophets”.
As Christians we celebrate the fact that our God comes to us. This is why we have Advent and Christmas. God never leaves us. We are baptized into Him, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that if we eat his flesh and drink his blood, we will have eternal life within us. That is our Eucharist. We consume Him. He lives in us. We are invited to live with Him forever.
Forever. Eternity. What is that?
Some 1600 years ago, St. Augustine, one of our greatest theologians, was teaching about the nature of God. He sometimes used riddles. He asked, “Can God move?”
Answer: Augustine said, “No”, He didn’t have anywhere to go.
In order to move there must be somewhere he is not. You cannot go where you already are. God is “everywhere.” He has no place to go.
Next riddle of Augustine: “What was God doing before He created the Universe?”
Augustine’s answer: Nothing. He didn’t have anywhere to go. God is “every when.” If there is no “when” when He is not, then He exists in every “when”, in every time.
So, God is every where. And God is every when. Jesus says he is the “Alpha and the Omega”. The beginning and the end.
So, if God is every “where”, and every “when”, What happens at Mass?
On the Altar, Time meets Eternity. Eternal Jesus participates in our time. On the Altar. The bread and the wine from our time become His Body and Blood, flesh and blood, spirit and divinity.
Every “when” is Eternity. Every “when” is here on our Altar, appearing in our “when”, our time. Our “where”. Here with us.
That is what it means to live the “Sacramental Life of the Church”. Where did Jesus go after the Resurrection? Into the Church. We live in Him. He lives in Us. In the Sacramental Life of the Church, we no longer live for this world, but already participate in the Kingdom. In the Lord’s Prayer, we pray as Jesus taught, “Thy Kingdom Come”. When Jesus appears in Scripture, He tells his disciples, “The Kingdom of Heaven is near, … or “at hand”.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel today,
… be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.
This means for us to live in a “State of Grace”, in the Sacramental Life of the Church. This means not just Baptized, but Confirmed, never missing Mass, and practicing frequent Confession. That is a sure way to “stay vigilant”, prepared “to stand before the Son of Man”.
St. Paul tells us the same thing,
… 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.
Our God comes to us, and He invites us to come close to Him.