Bishop Noonan reflects on the spirit of Advent

The Advent wreath, with a candle marking each week of the season, is a traditional symbol of the liturgical period. The lighting of Advent candles is a reminder that Jesus came into the world to dispel darkness and radiate the light of God’s love. (CNS photo/Lisa Johnston, St Louis Review)

Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

IS 64:7

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On this First Sunday of Advent, we begin not only a new liturgical year; we also embark upon the Jubilee Year of the Diocese of Orlando as we celebrate its 50th birthday, dedicating this year as the Year of the Eucharist.

As the prophet Isaiah so beautifully identifies the core of our being; that we are of the Father, so too we seek to bring forth the Father’s goodness throughout the altar of the earth for which we are entrusted as His children.

During this Jubilee Year, I call upon all people; young, old, poor, rich, infirmed, healthy, married, single to rededicate our lives to the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian living.  In the spirit of this Advent season, we prepare the way for the coming of Christ, we prepare ourselves for His coming of our heart. It is fitting that we consider the gifts of God which we are and how we join Jesus in offering ourselves as sacrifice upon the altar each time we participate in the celebration of Mass.

Pope Francis said, “At every celebration of Mass, our lives, offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, become, in him, an offering of praise and thanksgiving pleasing to the Father, for the salvation of the world.”

If we seek heaven on earth, the Eucharist is our only source.  As we join Christ upon the altar during the celebration of Mass, we offer ourselves in the depth of our weakness, of our uncertainty, of our straying from Him. We join within the bond of love uniting us to Christ to carry out His mission of making known the presence of God in our midst, a God who continues to suffer in our sisters and brothers who are hungry, thirsty, sick and imprisoned.

As we leave the Sanctuary of the space within the Church building, we enter into the Sanctuary of God’s kingdom on earth to make holy each moment of our daily living, to be as Christ to each one we encounter.  The Eucharist is our heavenly nourishment.  Christ nourishes us by uniting us to His Body; “He draws us into the life of the Trinity in giving us His Body as our Bread of Life.”

We long to recognize Jesus Christ the Lord in the breaking of the bread. We desire to dine in the kingdom of God. We seek conversion, that as we dine with Jesus, we are transformed by His presence. We plead for forgiveness and ask how to offer His Peace to each other. We await the hospitality of God as we open our arms to each other in welcome. We make ready our heart as we bring justice and generosity toward each other, to fulfill His mission. We take hope today that through the Eucharist, we too can taste and feel Jesus’ fulfilled promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Pope Francis talked about the nourishment we receive from the Eucharist, “In the Bread of Life, the Lord comes to us, making himself a humble meal that lovingly heals our memory, wounded by life’s frantic pace of life… The Eucharist is flavored with Jesus’ words and deeds, the taste of His passion, the fragrance of His Spirit.”

During this season of Advent, we are keenly aware of our Blessed Mother’s fiat, so joyfully offered to God in the fulfillment of salvation history, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.  My spirit exalts in God my Savior.”  May we also rejoice as members of the body of Christ and become the work of God’s hands.

Bishop Noonan
Diocese of Orlando
December 1, 2018