December 2, 2018

First Sunday of Advent

Long before anyone decorated a Christmas tree or heard about Santa,  the Church celebrated the season of Advent.  From the fifth century, the weeks before Christmas have been a time for special prayers and Scripture readings at  Mass  – all pointing to the birth of Jesus Christ at Bethlehem.   Today we embark on that special journey of Advent.

In this holy season, as the world counts down the shopping days left until Christmas, we count the days for preparing our hearts to welcome the Lord more deeply into our lives.

  1. We need these days of Advent to help us cut through the commercialization of Christmas so that we can get to the deep mystery of the humble birth of  Jesus Christ our Savior.
  2. We need to contemplate the great gift of the Father when Jesus,  His Son emptied Himself to take the form of a Servant and slave to bring us back to the house of Our Father.

Advent is the Church’s way of helping us focus on the Birth of Jesus  Christ.  The four Sundays of Advent represent the four thousand years the Chosen People longed for and awaited the coming of the Messiah. We need Advent to remind us of how cold, barren and miserable mankind was without Christ. The same is true today!

If Jesus  Christ is not a vital part of our lives right now, we are as hopeless as we can be!  We need this Advent Season to get back to the basics of our vocation to be Catholic, and to the challenge of the Church to prepare our hearts for the celebration of the birth of the One who is our true Life and our Peace.

Advent is a call from the Church to

  1. pray,
  2. receive  the  Sacrament  of  Confession  and
  3. make room for the Infant Savior of Bethlehem.

The basic theme of Advent is “Wake  up!”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us two solid and simple commands, namely “BEWARE” and “BE VIGILANT”.

  1. “BEWARE” – that we do not become so caught up in the commercial side of Christmas that we have no energy or enthusiasm for the real spiritual reason for the season.
  2. “BE  VIGILANT”  –  be alert and awake to the many Opportunities that Advent offers us to
    1. refocus our faith,
    2. refresh our hope,
    3. renew our love for Jesus.

Don’t miss the person of Jesus who comes at Christmas. And rather than merely remembering the historical coming of the Lord at Bethlehem, we need to long for His coming more deeply into our lives – especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

In the Gospel today, we are reminded again about the end of the world and judgment. We are cautioned about the awful consequences if we are caught off guard. The message is clear – we don’t know the day or the hour when Christ will come again; so we are cautioned to walk more closely on the path that leads to full life with Jesus Christ and ultimately to the House of our Father.

Through our Celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and through our Eucharistic Adoration we have a wonderful opportunity to encounter the Risen Lord. In this Holy Season of Advent, open wide the doors of our hearts to Him.

In the first reading today, the Prophet Jeremiah reminds us that we must long for the coming of Christ into our midst – the “Lord our Justice”. In the second reading, Saint Paul warns the Thessalonians and us, that we are called to be holy and blameless at the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

As we begin to wrap our presents, send out our cards and decorate our homes, let’s all remember whose birth we are about to celebrate. Realize that because of His birth, the world has been changed and we have been given new hope. In our Christmas preparations, may each of us listen to the words of St. John the Baptist calling us to: “Prepare the way of the Lord.

Respond to the call of Advent!

  1. Make time for prayer.
  2. Recognize the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
  3. Be reconciled to God through the Sacrament of Confession; – make room for the Infant Savior of Bethlehem.

It is so easy to coast through life in a daze. Advent is calling us out of that sleep. May each of us be awake in “joyful hope” of what can be – of what God has in store for those who are faithful to Him.