Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ. Advent means “coming.” There are three comings to reflect upon. The first is the coming of Christ in the liturgical year. This begins a new cycle in the liturgical year (C), which builds on the anticipated mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus, the greatest gift God gives to mankind. Our participation in the liturgy guides and directs us through the readings of the four weeks of Advent, presenting to us the need to reflect, prepare and move forward in accepting Christ into our lives. In our liturgy, the sacrifice of the Mass, our Lord comes to us and offers Himself to us. In the routine of our lives, we often fail to realize the sacredness of our Sunday worship and the fact that Christ presents Himself to us again and again.
A second coming is the acknowledgment of the historical coming of Jesus into our world. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold of the coming of the Messiah. The prophets constantly challenged the Israelite community to reform their ways and return to the covenant. The prophets reminded them of the promise that a Messiah would come, and the need to make straight the paths, which leads to a commitment of heart and mind.
The third coming is the one that the Messiah promised to all believers, namely that He will come again. Christ comes liturgically, has come historically, but will come again in time for the end of the world. So, we must be ready and prepared for His return. We do not know at what time He will return, but we know He will come again. Christ will come again in time for the end of the world and for the judgement of all mankind. However, He will also come to claim us personally, so we must be ready to stand before Him when He calls.
The Diocese of Madison lost their Bishop, Robert Morlino, who died of heart failure on Nov. 24, 2018. The loss of Bishop Morlino came as a shock. It is an example of that third personal (Advent) coming of Jesus, often when we least expect Him. I know many friends who have lost loved ones suddenly. It is a reminder to all of us how fragile life is, as well as a reminder of that wonderful admonition; “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” We have to be ready, for it is God’s time, not ours. I spoke to Bishop Morlino by phone a few days before his death. He was planning to attend our 175th anniversary Mass of the establishment of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (1843) as a sign of episcopal unity.
I always could count on support from Bishop Morlino for any issue, which furthered the good of the Catholic Church in Wisconsin. He will be missed for sure. But, the great consolation is that he will be able to stand before our Lord and offer that he did his best as a servant to Christ and His Church.
The only way we can prepare for the unexpected is to live in anticipation every day of meeting the Lord Jesus in prayer, in the Scriptures and in our good works toward our brothers and sisters because we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the December 4, 2018 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.