December 1st, 2019, the first Sunday of advent began with a pleasant surprise; Bishop Daniel E. Flores celebrated mass at our church in Harlingen. It took me a few seconds to realize it was him during the entrance procession after noticing the pastoral staff and miter. It is funny how our minds process information before reality hits us; the bishop is here and will officiate mass! This was an interesting development, especially after the previous night’s pillow talk.
It is a habit of mine to avoid thoughts of work or future plans if I wake up in the middle of the night but on Saturday night, I woke up restless, so I turned to God. The darkness and silence of the bedroom were the only witnesses of my conversation with Jesus Christ. I thanked Him for my family and a blessed Thanksgiving. I also thanked Him for our home and our country which as you can imagine, did not lead to a peaceful rest. Could these be the end of times? I thought. What exactly is going to happen when Jesus returns? Right now, the world seems to be falling apart, and from the bible, we learn apocalyptic events will precede His coming.
“When was the last time the world wasn’t falling apart, hug?” said Danny Archer – Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the movie Blood Diamond. For some reason, I remembered this quote and chuckled. Leave it to a handsome movie star to brighten your mood when in deep conversation with God. I’ve come to believe through many miraculous life experiences, that God does answer us and comforts us all the time. He finds a way to reach out to show that He is listening and today he did it in grand style!
I say this because His answer came through nonother than our bishop. Today’s gospel; Mathew 24:37-44 answered the question I’d raised the night before. What exactly is going to happen when Jesus returns? Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.
Those of you who know Bishop Flores realize how profoundly eloquent he is. In his deep and calm voice, he explained the meaning of the birth of the Son of Man and the importance of preparing for His coming. He was referring to Christmas and the end of times simultaneously. He talked about the fruits of the spirit, especially charity. He invited us to ask ourselves how God would find us if He came today. He said the world tries to confuse us and that Christmas is not only about a child being born but about our Savior being born to liberate us from sin through His death and resurrection. Bishop Flores reminded us about God’s great love for us and how this love transforms our hearts of stone into hearts of love and compassion.
So, what if the world is falling apart? God is in control and my days should be filled with love, gratitude and respect for others and not spent in fear or anger. Christmas bestows the opportunity to be charitable and to reflect God’s mercy in the world.
Advent just began, and we have 4 weeks to prepare for His coming. Let us not waste any time arguing or fighting, but spend our time seeking answers. He will answer them. I guarantee it!