Black Friday is not the beginning of Christmas. Despite the secular world trying to convince us that the ‘reason-for-the-season is this hysterical frenzy of consumerism: with love measured in the number of gifts given and received. If we mean to keep Christ-in-Christmas, we must act truly as Christians, disciples of Jesus, practitioners of the faith in which we all profess.
Today is the First Sunday in Advent. It too, is not the beginning of Christmas.
Advent is a time of anticipation of things to come. It is a time for preparation, a time for reflection, a time for repentance, and a time for renewal. Advent – from the Latin word ‘advenio’ - meaning - “to come to” – gives reference to the three comings of Jesus:
- First, Jesus coming into the world – Emmanuel - God with us – God born into flesh, born into the human condition – becoming like us – in all but sin, because he loves us so much.
- Second, Jesus coming into our lives – through grace and the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist: helping us to live as faithful disciples and bringing us to His promise of Salvation
- Third, Jesus coming again – the end time, when the Good Shepherd returns to gather all his flock; bringing all the faithful into the peace of God’s kingdom and life eternal
This third coming of Jesus is our concern on this First Sunday in Advent, in the Gospel of Mathew. Jesus is giving us a warning of the fulfillment of his promise to someday return, “when we least expect it.” He tells us that no one knows when the Son of Man is coming. He warns us to be prepared – always - for this unexpected event. We are reminded that we should live our lives like the virgins awaiting the coming of the bridegroom. We should be looking out for the Lord; keeping our lamps lit and ourselves in readiness - to go out and meet him when he comes. Our watchword is to be: “Always Faithful, Always Vigilant” to the Word of God and His promise to return to bring the faithful into His heavenly Kingdom.
Jesus advises us to be like Noah, listening to God and doing the Lord’s work: Diligently preparing for the flood while the world carries on its business. The world ridiculed and ignored Noah, but his faith was his strength, his comfort and his safety. Noah lived in the presence of God and was prepared for His coming promise.
Paul reminds us to not let the distractions of the world take us away from our salvation. We can almost hear the excitement in his voice as he encourages us to hold on to our faith - for the Lord is coming – at any moment – to bring us into the promise of God’s kingdom. Do not give in to the desires of the flesh or the darkness of this world, but - put on the armor of light; put on Christ and live in His Light.
In Isaiah, we hear of the glory of God’s Kingdom, where all shall live in harmony in the house of the Lord. Joy and peace will reign. Swords will be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks and no one will train for war anymore. This is God’s promise: to live in the peace of His heavenly Kingdom – in His Light – in His love – forever and ever
Each Advent season we are reminded to prepare – not for the future, but for the now. We are to make ourselves ready to meet the Lord when he comes – at every moment:
- Reflect on the Lord and His promise of salvation and life eternal,
- Repent our sins: fast and prepare our hearts to love as we are loved,
- Renew our baptismal promises: put on our robes of white and hold our lighted candles high.
Overcome the distractions of this world. Do not become desensitized to the spirit within ourselves and indifferent to the world around us. Live as brothers and sisters, children of God, caring for and loving one another. Live in the Lord, Jesus! Put on Christ! Preach the Good News and Love as we are loved – always. Prepare: for we know not when the Son of Man will come. ~Amen
Deacon Don Ron