Rising Sun

In 13 Today's Church on 2014/11/09 at 12:00 AM


  • Every morning the sun rises in the East, conquering the darkness of night as it climbs over the horizon and into the sky. No doubt most of us at some point in our lives have enjoyed watching this daily display of natural beauty.
  • The early Christians enjoyed the splendor of the rising sun as well, for they saw in this daily event a great metaphor for Christ and His triumph over the darkness of sin.
  • Not only did Jesus Christ triumph over sin and death in His resurrection on that Easter morning so long ago, but He will come again in glory to triumph once and for all over the darkness of sin and death.
  • Just as the sun rises in the East shedding its glorious light over the earth, so too will the Son of Man – Who is our true light – arise in the East at the end of time, arrayed in glory and with salvation in His hand.
  • Those who have believed in Christ and lived in the light of His grace and truth will enjoy with Him His eternal victory, while those who have preferred the darkness will reap the punishment of eternal damnation.
  • This is what we believe as Catholics. Indeed, this is the ultimate truth of our faith.
  • But for now we must watch and wait for this great moment of our salvation known as theParousia when Christ will return to earth in glory and majesty.
  • Advent is our annual season in which we renew our solemn vigil for the coming of our Lord– both His coming as man in the Nativity as well as this coming in glory at the end of time.
  • We mark our vigil by lighting the candles of the Advent wreath in quiet but confident hopethat the True Light will soon overcome the darkness of this world.
  • As such, Advent is a time to find our proper orientation as Christians: to look east for the coming of our Lord. In fact, the word orientation literally means to turn toward the East.
  • It’s for this reason that, historically speaking, churches were built with the main door in the west and the apse in the east so that the priest would face east as He offered the Mass.
  • Whereas the East has always been symbolic of light and facing toward our Lord and the New Jerusalem, the West has always been symbolic of sin and darkness.
  • And thus the main doors of churches of old were put in the west to symbolize our leaving the world of darkness to enter the world of light when entering a church.
  • To this day, whenever a priest chooses to offer Mass facing the tabernacle rather than facing the people, as we do in the Latin Mass, we call his position “ad orientam”, for it’s not so much that the priest has turned away from the people, but rather that He’s facing eastwardly toward God.
  • Our first reading from the prophet Isaiah anticipates God’s coming in glory. It’s as if Isaiah is begging the Lord to come quickly to save us from our sins.
  • But Isaiah also realizes the importance of being well prepared for the Lord’s coming, and in this beautiful season of Advent, preparing ourselves for the gift of salvation that will soon be upon us means finding our true and proper orientation.
  • As we look to nature, this is the perfect time of year for us to prepare ourselves for our salvation. While for almost all of Advent the days are growing shorter, the winter solstice – at which point the days begin to grow longer – occurs at the very end of the season. This is a natural herald for the birth of Christ, the true light of the world.
  • Just as the sun very gently begins to exert its dominance over the darkness of night by slowly extending the length of daylight, so too Christ, who is the Light and Day which drives away the night of sin, will make His gentle and humble appearance.
  • He will come in peace and meekness, born in the cruel comforts of a lowly manger. And despite His lowly appearance as a baby in a manger, He is the Word-Made-Flesh. He is Emmanuel, God-With-Us, and it is He who will save us and redeem us.
  • But to enjoy His salvation, we must turn to Him. We must orient our very lives toward Him so that we might see His face.
  • This will do by seeking His will – rather than our own – in all things. This we do by being obedient to His commandments, and by seeking to love Him above all things.
  • We orient ourselves to Jesus, my brothers and sisters, by seeking to live in the light of His grace and truth, shunning all that is dark and sinful, and by asking for His mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the times that we fail.
  • Today our Lord calls us to watch, to be alert for His coming. While we do not know the time in which He will come again, we do know what direction He will come from.
  • Let us cast off whatever is dark and sinful in our lives, so that with our Blessed Mother we may look east and properly orient ourselves to God.
  • Let us live in the light of God’s grace and truth; and let us trust that when He comes, we shall see Him face to face, and we shall be saved.


© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
To enable the audio, lease go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

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