Today begins the preparatory Season of Advent.
|Advent wreath at table in Holy Trinity Kellia, St. Simeon Skete|
The Gospel for 1st Sunday of Advent
St. Matthew xxi. 1.
WHEN they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, and brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name 'of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
Jesus tells His disciples to go into the city AND He tells them to find a tethered colt that no one had ridden.
Think about that image: "a tethered colt which no one has ridden..."
|Young mule of Denny & JoanE Markwell, members of St. Simeon Skete|
Of course the people are waiting for a dominative, powerful, substantive image - a King, A Ruler who is going to change everything from the outside (the surface).
But Jesus says "I'm not going to come in on a horse, in triumph but ...as Zechariah 9:9 prophesied... I'm coming in on a donkey to redefine what power is, worth is, strength is, trust is...
This colt/donkey, THIS powerless image is a tethered colt, its been tied up in all of history. No one's ever wanted to use it, no one's ridden this kind before but Jesus is going to ride it into the city to show the world a different way, a new way, the way of trust, the way of vulnerability, the way of powerlessness.
When your generosity has been tied up, loosen it and when greed rises up and asks "what are you doing?", say, "The Lord has need of it" When your humility is tied up, loosen it and when pride questions you, say "The Lord has need of it." When your forgiveness is tied up, untie it and when mercilessness asks you "why?, say "The Lord has need of it."
As Jesus rides into the city in this "different way" the people wonder "Who is this?" "What is this new way?" Jesus upsets the system and says: "its prayer".
Of all the battles that God has with human consciousness, the battle to get rid of those things (furniture) that keep us from making our souls a house of prayer must be God's most difficult battle. Culture wants to rearrange the "furniture" by dominative power - the ability to influence others through coercion, hiring and firing, punishing, threatening, lawsuits, money, position. This will rearrange the "furniture" and most will respond to it. But at best, this is all we can do: re-arrange the "furniture". But Jesus doesn't re-arrange the furniture, He pitches it - throws it out - opting for a House of Prayer! Anything in your life that is keeping you from prayer needs to be pitched!
|Jeremy Lopez, in prayer before his Confirmation. Nazareth House Apostolate, Athens, Georgia|
As the Holiday Season approaches many will be re-arranging their living rooms to prepare for Holiday guests or give a new look but only PRAYER can change the living room into a LIVING room.
|Personal milagro of Seraphim, housed where he hangs his prayer beads|
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen.