First Sunday of Advent
Sunday, November 28 2021
Holy Ghost Church – 5:00 Mass
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14; 1 Thessalonians 3:12—4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Happy New Year! Advent begins today, the time when the Church celebrates the beginning of our new liturgical year.
Advent is a season of hope, anticipation, and preparation for the coming of Our Lord. It is the appointed time to prepare for his past, present and future coming:
- Christ’s coming some 2,000 years ago as our infant king at Christmas,
- His coming as the Lord of our lives daily in this present time, and
- As the one who will come again in the future to destroy sin & death and welcome his chosen people into his eternal kingdom.
The season of Advent is first of all the time to prepare for the coming of the infant Jesus at Christmas, the time when we celebrate God himself taking on flesh and entering fully into our human experience in all things but sin. During Advent we should be preparing for the remembrance of this first coming of Christ so we can properly welcome him as our infant king. Advent is the appointed time to prepare for the glorious celebration of Christmas when the Word of God entered our world so that all of us could be saved from our sins and, in Christ, become children of God.
Advent is also the time to reflect on his coming daily into our lives to see how we might need to change so as make more room for him in our hearts. It is a time for self-examination and reflection on how we are doing in our spiritual lives.
How is our prayer life, is it vibrant and healthy? How well are we living the Christian life? Do friends and strangers know that we are Christians by our words and our actions? Do they see the love of Christ active in our lives? Are we serving those in need? Are we challenging ourselves to expand our hearts by taking time every day to ask God what it is that he needs us to do for him? Are we welcoming him into our lives and giving him permission to rule over every aspect of who we are and what we do?
Advent is also the time to awaken our drowsy hearts from the sleepiness that can easily overtake us as we make our way through this darkened world toward the brightness of eternity. It is the time to remember and prepare for Christ’s coming at the end of time.
It is Jesus himself who tells us in today’s Gospel of his dramatic return. He speaks in no uncertain terms about the end of the age. He makes the startling claim that he himself will come “in power and great glory,” after a frightening period of time on earth when the powers of heaven are shaken.
The Church has always taken seriously this admonition of Jesus to stay awake and to watch. The season of Advent has been set apart by Mother Church as the time for a wake-up call for all of us who follow Christ.
So, just what does it mean to be awake? To answer this wake-up call?
To be awake is to shake off the slumber of thinking that the world belongs to no one but ourselves. Of thinking that we are the masters of our destiny.
To be awake is to understand that the world and everything in it belongs to God, who created it and all of us out of love, for his own purposes. To know that he not only created us all, but that he also sustains our lives by his mighty, unfathomable power.
To be awake is to live a life of gratitude to our creator by listening to him and obeying his commandments. To use the many gifts he has given us to build up his Church and spread his good news to those he sends to us.
To be awake is to understand that Hell is real and that there are eternal consequences to our thoughts and our actions. To guard against sinful inclinations and to make every effort to resist temptation.
To be awake is to see that the Enemy, the Evil One, is alive and well in today’s culture. A culture in which parents are letting their children “choose” their gender, a culture in which elementary schools are distributing condoms to students. A time when the Catholic Church is the brunt of jokes and a time when killing unborn babies is considered a woman’s right and a health issue.
Rather than joining in on the folly of this rebellion of the culture against God and his divine law, we must stay awake and remember that we are “aliens and exiles” who are on a journey and are not yet home.
As we pass through this hostile world, traveling toward our eternal home, we must engage with the culture to spread the good news of the gospel message. We’re not called to live off the grid.
We must not try to escape from the world, but we must engage with the culture and be leaven for good, a leaven of holiness. As Christians we must be true examples of Christ’s love. We must love one another and work together to bring comfort to the poor, food and shelter to the homeless, companionship to the lonely, and dignity to the marginalized. This is how we must prepare for Christ’s second coming at the end of time.
Let us seize the grace that’s available to us in this Advent season so we can become fully awake and ready to properly celebrate Christ’s coming as the infant king at Christmas, to recognize his every appearance as he quietly comes to us each day, and to be prepared for that decisive day when he comes to judge each and every one of us.
Dear friends in Christ, the choice is ours. As we come forward for communion today, let us ask God for the grace to heed his wake-up call as we begin this Advent season, this new year in the life of the Church. In this new liturgical year let us make a resolution to be more aware of Christ’s coming in the past, the present and the future.
Perhaps we’ll resolve to spend more time in prayer or in Eucharistic adoration? Perhaps we’ll make it a practice to attend daily Mass once or twice a week? Perhaps we’ll resolve to get involved in a ministry of service to the homeless or the homebound? Perhaps we’ll be more generous in the giving of our financial resources to organizations who serve the poor and those in need?
Let’s also make a good confession this Advent so we can be absolved of those sins we have committed and the fault of not doing what we know we should have done. There is no sin that can not be forgiven in the sacrament of confession. That’s right, ANY sin we have committed, no matter how grave, can be forgiven in confession, restoring us to a state of grace and healing our broken relationship with God.
Whatever our “New Year’s resolution” might be in this season of Advent, let’s resolve to do something more to awaken ourselves to the reality and hope of Christ’s coming into our world and into our lives. Staying awake with our eyes fixed on Christ is the KEY to true happiness, both in this world and in the world to come. Amen? Amen!
God bless you.