Monday, November 6, 2017
Rogelio Zelada - Office of Lay Ministry
The author of the book of Genesis describes the six foundational steps of Creation with brilliant logic. The Spirit, who was “sweeping over the waters” before the beginning, is the first privileged witness of the creation of light, which ignites the corners of the first day of divine work. The passing of days and nights sprouts uncontrollably from lights and shadows. Time is the first and accurate great creature born to mark the rhythm of life on the Earth, the seasons, the stages of human existence, of that creature which is God’s favorite.
In the creation of the universe, the first thing that the voice of God pulls out from the primordial nothing is time; a sacred time where God is the sole protagonist, the only and extraordinary actor who beautifies with clouds the great canvas he has painted in blue, bright reds, pink auroras and black storms. As the perfect artisan, he creates the spaces after time, which is nothing but light and shadow. He fills the waters with life until they burst; he makes deer, gazelles, horses and all kinds of living creatures run in green forests, plains and mountains, which man and the woman, made from the red mud of his image and likeness, will have to name as their first assignment.
That time of God (Kairos) gave way to the time of man over the Earth (Kronos). The Kairos where God acts is always present tense. And that creative action, unique, inexhaustible and unrepeatable, remains in place because it proceeds from God, the perfect present for whom there is neither time nor space, neither past nor future, and for that reason his work remains forever.
When Jesus wanted to give an absolute and definitive nature to his words, he used an expression that his listeners understood perfectly: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” With that, he wanted to say that before a single word of his was not fulfilled, everything that cannot end — because it is the work of God — will end.
The time given to man and woman on earth is simple, limited and short; it expires and is inconsequential. But when the Creator God fully enters into human history, it is transformed and the reality of its nature changes. That is why the great Easter epic, the extraordinary act of the Lord who liberates his people, is a permanent act in time, lived in the here and now, not in the past.
When Israel celebrates the feast of the great departure from Egypt — the central event of its faith and of its birth as the chosen people — it will not do so as a glorious memory of the past, but as a permanent event: Today, the Lord God of Israel has freed us from the oppression of slavery in Egypt.
If God intervened over human history in the Hebrew Passover, his redeeming act took place inside human events in the Easter of the Lord Jesus, Word Incarnate, only Son of God. So, when we Christians celebrate Easter, we renew its mystery, we locate it in the present, as a permanent act of the Risen Lord.
The same thing happens with every sacrament, work of Christ, its protagonist; the Eucharist in which we participate is the same and only celebration of the Last Supper, presided by Christ through the ministry of the presbyter or the bishop. A theologian from the Middle Ages said that it was as if history would fold or shrink to bring us before the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, because we are in the presence of the same Paschal event and not a new one, repeated or different.
The liturgy of the Church is the solemn act of transforming the Kronos into Kairos. Liturgical seasons, cycles, feasts, solemnities, look to introduce us to the Paschal mystery and to take us to that sacred level in a progressive and pedagogical way.
Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, will guide us through four weeks with the theme of waiting for the Parousia. It will make us listen to the messianic texts of the Old Testament, and will present for us a rich itinerary in each one of the three yearly cycles.
On the first Sunday, it will place our attention on the waiting; that is why it invites us to stay awake, to watch, because the moment of our liberation is near. The main character is the people of Israel, the faithful awaiting the arrival of the Messiah.
The second Sunday is the one for conversion. It cries out: Be converted; prepare the way, because everyone will see the salvation of God. It highlights the figure of the prophets, those who announced Christ the savior.
The third Sunday asks us to welcome the one who is about to arrive, and to have our eyes open to discover the signs of the one who will be among us, his people, and will baptize us with the Holy Spirit. On this Sunday, the central figure is John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, who announces the immediacy of the Messiah and who culminates the Old Testament.
The fourth Sunday is the one of the announcement: in dreams to Joseph, in heavenly visions to Mary, and in glorious and exalted canticle in the visit to Elizabeth, her relative.
The Virgin Mother is the perfect image for this last Sunday of Advent, because everything announced by the prophets is fulfilled in Mary. She, as the poor one of Yahweh, knew how to wait like none other for the arrival of the savior of her people. With her “fiat,” Mary uniquely paved the way for the coming of the Lord. An extraordinary woman, she is the first person of the New Testament, the one who opens it, giving Advent the stamp of being the Marian time par excellence.
The Virgin who waits, the Daughter of Zion, the full of grace, the new Eve, the servant of the Lord, the Virgin who listens, the blessed among all women, the Virgin of Advent, the Holy Mother of God, will give us Christ on Christmas Eve. It is a time of joy, the great celebration of the glory of God intoned in the heavens and on the Earth before the mystery of Christ, light of the world.