November 29, 2022 – West Bend, WI – Parishes across Washington County lit the first candle in the Advent wreath on Sunday, November 27. According to the Catholic Church purple is the color of “penance, preparation, and sacrifice.”
Below is a message from former St. Frances Cabrini associate pastor Rev. Carlos Londono.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The Christian hearts rejoice with hopeful expectation at celebrating the coming of the Lord Jesus in the flesh on Christmas day. Hope never disappoints (see Romans 5:5)
The many burdens that this year has placed upon our shoulders remind us of the need for a Savior and for a time when “the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them” (Isaiah 11:6).
In Advent, there is a figure towards which we direct our attention especially during the second Sunday in Advent. This figure is Saint John the Baptist whose mission is to invite all to “prepare the way of the Lord, [and] make straight his paths” (Mark 1:3).
Tradition also calls Saint John the Baptist “the friend of the Bridegroom,” the bridegroom being Christ. This friend “who stands and listens to [the Bridegroom], rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice” (John 3:29) that says “‘Behold, I am coming soon’” (Revelation 22:7).
The Lord is certainly fast approaching, in the form of bread and wine at every Mass and in glory at the end of times. The figure of Saint John the Baptist and his mission makes me think of the priest’s own mission in the Church.
The priest is a “friend of the Bridegroom” who announces the coming of the Lord at every Mass, for example, when he calls down the Holy Spirit upon the gifts of bread and wine “so that they may become the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The priest, indeed, is necessary for God’s continued real presence to remain with us in the Eucharist most especially, in the same way that the Father deemed necessary the figure of Saint John the Baptist to become the “precursor” of His Son’s coming into the world in the flesh over two thousand years ago. The Priest also, like Saint John the Baptist, “rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.”
This is what he preaches and what he announces, not his own opinion or interests, but the words he has heard from the Lord himself in the intimacy of his heart. Like Saint John the Baptist, the priest points at someone greater than himself, the Lord Jesus, asking the faithful to direct all loyalties not to him but to the Lord who alone can accomplish the work of Salvation.
At this point, it becomes evident the reality that we need priests today as we needed Saint John the Baptist thousands of years ago to “prepare the way of the Lord.” I actually believe it is important that every Catholic man asks himself at some point in his life, “Is God calling me to be a priest?”
The Father continues calling men, as He called Saint John the Baptist, to baptize with water so that the Lord may baptize with the Holy Spirit (see Mark 1:8).
The world needs more “friends of the Bridegroom.” Our country and our cities need more “precursors” that will cry out from the desert: “prepare the way of the Lord!” May God sends us many holy priests to serve His Holy People and His Holy Altars.