Dec 1 (Mt 24:37-44 – First Sunday of Advent)

Legends are common and are important to a culture.

A legend is a semi-true story, which has been passed on from person-to-person and has important meaning or symbolism inherent in it.

It usually includes an element of truth, involve heroic characters or based on historic facts, but with ‘mythical qualities’.

One such famous legend is that of King Nero.

In AD 64, a great fire consumed the city of Rome.

>>  For six days & seven nights, the Romans watched helplessly as their city burned..

This historical fact is accompanied by a legend which says that while the city of Rome was burning, its Emperor Nero was very casually busy, playing the fiddle!

It’s from this legend (true or not) that we get the English phrase “To play the fiddle while Rome burns”

>> It means to “do nothing or something trivial while knowing that something disastrous is happening”.

>> It means “to spend time enjoying oneself or doing things that are not important when one should be dealing with a serious problem”

The Gospel of the Day is a strong warning to examine whether we too, as in the legend of Nero, are engaging ourselves “in playing the fiddle, while Rome burns”.

We are on the first day of the Season of Advent.

In the Latin Rite tradition of the Church, there are six different liturgical seasons…

1. The Season of Advent is a time to become aware of God’s deep faithfulness and preparing our hearts to receive Him more deeply into our lives.

2. The Season of Christmas invites us to experience, thank and cherish the intervention of God in our lives and to grow deeper in the understanding of the ‘Emmanuel God’ – the God Who is with us!

3. The Season of Lent invites us to focus on the reality of sin and make repentance.

4. The Season of Holy Triduum  invites to focus and experience the passion, death and Resurrection of our Blessed Lord

5. The Season of Easter invites us to focus on the mighty power of God through His Resurrection and the New life He promises.

6. The Season of the Ordinary Times invites us to focus on daily life and teachings of Jesus and draw practical conclusions for our life.

>> Advent is a time to become more aware of the presence of the Lord in our lives.

>> Advent is a time to wake up from the slumber of sin to a life of grace and blessing.

>> Advent is a time to shake off the dust of sluggishness and become more zealous and fervent.

The central theme of reading of the Day is Jesus’ warning to each one of us to be alert, watchful and prepared because Christ’s Second Coming can occur at any time.

We are invited to examine ourselves in asking….

>> Am I casually wasting away my life, without giving enough attention to my spiritual life?

>> Am I spending my time enjoying in vain, without paying attention to the higher things of life?

>> Am I dozing off in lethargy and laziness and failing to carry out my Christian responsibilities?

The Gospel of the Day speaks of the various signs that would signal the coming of the Son of Man. (Mt 24: 37-41)

It also gives a strict warning and a hard reminder to be always on the alert and be on the watch.

>> “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come” (Mt 24: 42)

St Luke in his Gospel uses an interesting word, to convey this same message.

>> “But take heed…lest that day come upon you suddenly like a SNARE” (Lk 21: 34-35)

The Greek word used for “snare” is “pagis”.

> ‘Pagis’ comes from the word ‘pegnumi’ which means “a set up or a fix”.

It is a trap (fixed or fastened by a noose or notch) which can fall suddenly  so that wild animals and birds are caught by surprise.

>> And when it is set off there is no time to withdraw and avoid getting caught.

As soon as the prey takes the first bite or the first step, the snare is set off…

… and before the prey knows what happened, they are caught.

The Lord describes His Second Coming to the World  as this ‘snare’… giving no time or chance for escape.

Everyone who is caught up with the cares of this life –  the day will come on them like a snare!

This, therefore, calls for alertness and watchfulness at all times.

>>  Our whole life, ought to be drenched in preparation and  vigilance.

But often, we tend to allow laxity and sloppiness to dominate our lives.

We tend to become people “who play the fiddle, while Rome burns…”

>> Though we sense the fire of sins and transgressions burning in our lives, we play the fiddle of making many excuses and postpone the need to repent.

>> Though we sense the fire of indifference and unconcern burning in our relationships, we play the fiddle of not taking the lead to improve our contacts and slip into more hatred.

>> Though we sense the fire of abuses and corruption burning in our society, we play the fiddle of passing the responsibility onto others and promote those evils by our apathy and lack of concern.

This Season of Advent is a wonderful time to renew our commitment and consecration to the Lord.

The Lord wishes to come into our hearts….

… God will fulfill His promise of coming into us, when we do our part of being watchful and prepared.

As St. Thomas Aquinas says:

“Without God, I can’t. 

Without me, He won’t.”

> Let us become more watchful.

> Let us become more prayerful.

Let us stop “playing the fiddle while Rome burns”;

…  instead let us “be enthusiastic and responsible while (our heavenly) Home calls!”

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset.

>> If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God…

… lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply!”

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