First Sunday of Advent (C)

Today we begin a new liturgical year.  Advent focuses our attention, in hopeful expectation, for the coming of Christ.  Advent reminds us that right from the very beginning, right after the Fall of Adam and Eve, there was the promise of a Redeemer who would save us from sin and death.

Throughout the Old Testament, the People of God waited and longed for the coming of the One Who would save them.  The People of God waited for thousands of years for the fulfillment of their hope.  Every Prophet predicted His coming; every event in the Old Testament points to the deliverance that Jesus Christ would bring.  In the fullness of time, over two thousand years ago, the Second Person of the Trinity fulfilled all those promises.  Advent reminds us of that wait for redemption experienced by all the Patriarchs and Prophets and all of God’s chosen people.

Advent is also a time that calls to our minds the fact that we await Jesus’ return in glory.  Jesus promised that He would come again, and we wait in joyful hope for His Second Coming.  We were not made to live on this earth forever.  We were all made to be with God forever.  This life is a time of testing in which we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, as Saint Paul says.  We do not know when the end of time will be; none of us even knows when we will be called home, and so we all must live our lives in such a way that we are prepared to meet Our Lord.  Jesus told many parables about the importance of watching and being prepared for when the Master comes.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy . . . from the anxieties of daily life . . . be vigilant at all times and pray.”  It is easy to let the “anxieties of daily life” distract us from the things that are truly important, especially around the holiday seasons.  I have heard people say that they just cannot wait for the holidays to be over.  If that is the attitude that we have, perhaps we should re-evaluate the way that we celebrate the holidays.  Christmas isn’t meant to be a burden; it is meant to be a celebration.  This season of Advent is not about running around and rushing and getting everything done before Christmas.  It is meant to be a season in which we prepare our hearts to celebrate the fact that our God became a man like us in all things except for sin; He was born for us that we might be set free from slavery to sin and death.  Jesus Christ came to set us free and help us gain access to Heaven and to Our Heavenly Father.  And we celebrate that by making ourselves slaves to Christmas shopping?

Advent is a time to examine our hearts and root out everything that keeps us from being prepared to meet Jesus Christ, when He comes again.  Christians in the early Church longed for His Second Coming and they often prayed: “Come Lord Jesus!”  Do we make that prayer our own?  Do we look forward to Jesus’ Second Coming with joyful hope?  Or have we become so comfortable in this world that we have forgotten that our true homeland is Heaven?  Jesus taught us that wherever our hearts are, there also will our treasure be.  This life is short and this world is passing away.  Woe to us if our only treasure is in this world.

When Jesus Christ was born all those centuries ago, He came as our Savior.  When He comes again, He will come to judge the living and the dead, as we profess in the Creed.  We need to make sure that our hearts are prepared to welcome Him.  If we detach ourselves from sin, we will have no fear of the Just Judge.  If we live for this world alone, we will likely have a difficult time praying: “Come Lord Jesus!”

Let us make use of this Advent Season to prepare our hearts for the Coming of Christ.  Let us ask Our Lord to help us to have a proper focus on the things that are truly important: the things that are eternal.

Lord Jesus, send your Holy Spirit upon us to enlighten our minds and to inflame our hearts with love for You.  May we use this Season as a time to focus ourselves; may these days of Advent bring our families and all of us closer to You.  May we long for Your coming with joyful hope.  Lord Jesus, come in glory!  Amen.