“PAUL PROCLAIMS THE PRINCE OF PEACE’S ADVENT”
Romans 13. 11-14
Advent Midweek Vespers I: 5 December Anno Domini 2013
Father Watson SSP
Grace Mercy and Peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus + Christ
You had no trouble waking up (way) too early on Christmas day back when you were a child craving mammon; and that’s really what it was. Pray for forgiveness to all our parents who had us more jazzed for the North-pole fat man with our loot than for the Incarnated Second Person of the Blessed Trinity coming into our world to save us from the sin of greed, concupiscence, avarice, and covetousness! You have no trouble, now, waking up early and alert to make it to the airport for your vacation, or to get on “the road” for your fishing, hunting, or “game-day” adventure.
But…that’s why Advent, that’s why God had to take into His Divinity man’s humanity—to cleanse, purify, deify it by first forgiving it; then being perfect in/with it, and then by dying with it (His sinless, immaculate, innocence) loaded up with all your dark deeds and darker thoughts. It’s why the blessed Apostle St. Paul tells you “now it is high time to awake out of sleep.” Advent is the time for this exhortation to repent. Drown your “old-Adam” and confess your sins. Pray the Holy Spirit gives you your Advent King through His Word and through His Meal so that you are alert and anxious to hasten His final Advent—“for now is our salvation nearer than when + we believed.”
Thus the greatest Apostle and Missionary of all, Saint Saul of Tarsus believed, and thus he taught and confessed to you, and for you, that you might repent and believe. The “night is far spent, the day is at hand.” The Old Covenant has been obeyed, kept and subsumed—consummated in Jesus’ perfect obedient life. The Hebrew Old Testament is far spent and its purchase is Immanuel. The day is at hand, the New Testament has been ushered in and dawn breaks as you prepare to celebrate with Paul the first Advent of God in the Flesh!
Saint Paul had plenty of “works of darkness” to cast off; for he had persecuted Jesus. Christ is one with His Church, as a Groom to a Bride, and thus when Paul assisted in the murder of Saint Stephen; he was a direct accomplice with the killers of Christ Himself. Paul, as a great Pharisee scholar, rigorist Benjamite, and facile historian, “knew” all the Hebrew sacred writings—he just didn’t really know what they meant, Who they were really written by, and to Whom they were all pointing. Until…until the Advent of Christ smack-dab into Paul’s hard-hearted face (blinding it temporarily) on the Damascus Road awakened him out of rioting against the Saints, devilish drunkenness and strife and envying, and chambering (i.e. whoring) with falsehood. The Word made Flesh came to Paul to open His eyes to the words of Scripture and to the Incarnated Advent of God as man and for men!
Paul is the Prophet of your Savior’s Advent: past, present, and to come! He hears Jesus speaking and he echoes the Words of peace to you: “You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.” [Eph. 2.20] Your pains and your crumblings are not going to bring you down into darkness for you are built on Jesus Body and Blood. Paul came to know that the Old Testament, when the Psalmist wrote “Thy [W]ord is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” [Ps119.105] was speaking of Jesus the Light and Logos of the world. So fitting it is that the Gospel for Christmas Day is John 1: “…the Light of men…the Light shineth in darkness…the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” [Jn. 1. 4b, 5a, 9] Paul would have liked that pericopal choice by the Church! The Advent of the Incarnated One makes all things fresh and new…even as He begins to heal you for your journey with Him.
Paul testifies your faith: “God, Who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the Fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, Whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds.” [Hebrews 1.1-2]
Advent is not about snow or snowmen. Advent is about celebrating the coming of the One Who would bleed His red Blood and give up His sinless Body not as a chrismon on an artificial tree but at The Paschal Lamb on the Tree of the Crucifix. This season which comes every year in dark and depressing December is not about St. Nick, frosted cookies, evergreens or giving presents to your loved ones. It is about knowing (believing by the gift of Immanuel through the Holy Spirit working in Word and Sacramental Word) that “Now is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is your salvation.” Now, yes, tonight, but even more so this coming Mass on Sunday. There you will “put…on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh,” for He is your Flesh and Blood; your Peace, Absolution, and Advent Home.
In The Name of The Father and of The + Son and of The Holy Ghost