GET READY - JESUS IS COMING!
First Sunday of Advent C
Here we are at the beginning of the Church’s New Year - the season of Advent. It is a season of preparation. We have entered into the Christmas countdown period. Every day now we will see it in the newspapers and hear it on the radio and television, "24 shopping days until Christmas," "23 shopping days until Christmas," "22 shopping days until Christmas." All around us there are signs that Christmas is coming. What are some of those signs? - Stores are filled with Christmas decorations; Santa is at the mall; Christmas music is playing on the radio and television; Christmas cards are arriving in the mailbox and Christmas parties at work, at school, and at church.
In the weeks ahead the world around us is going to be absorbed by the feast of Christmas with gifts, parties, cards, and decorations; at least both Christians and non-Christians nobody will be indifferent to the reality that something is up. While many will be taking economic advantage of the season to do business, let us take spiritual advantage of it. The liturgy during this period asks us to spend some time reflecting on the mystery of Jesus coming to us as a human being. Christmas is a not only a wonderful time to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is also a time to remember that Jesus promised that he would come again. We don't read much about that in the newspapers and we don't hear much talk about it on the radio or television, but Jesus told us to be prepared and to watch for his return.
Advent has a twofold character: On the one hand it is time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas in which the first coming of the Son of God to humanity is celebrated, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second coming at the end of time. That is why the first three weeks of Advent will focus on the Second Coming, while during the last week, the liturgical focus will be on the immediate preparation for Christmas. For these two reasons Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.
The Bible tells us that Jesus could return any time and that we need to be ready. Normally when we have news that a very important family friend is visiting we get excited and may begin to prepare a few things including making ourselves and the house tidy. That is normal. When you have a visitation of officials of senior ranking to your work place we normally spend some time to be nit and smart lest we get a bad report. That is also normal. Some call this visitation phobia. Visitation phobia is probably not totally hypocrisy. It is just one way of admitting that we are imperfect in many, many ways. We all admit the importance to prepare for exams, rehearsal for a performance and spending some time for face makeups before we appear for a TV interview; and that is all fine. The same wisdom tells us that our souls need some spiritual makeups before we appear for Christmas celebrations. Does that make sense?
God knows our true nature and so the church sets up a liturgical calendar to deal with our different situations. Advent season is a proclamation that humanity will soon be under divine visitation and so the scriptural message is a prophetic invitation for us to be ready for this great divine visitation. How are we to be ready?
During advent we are encouraged to participate in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation as the core preparation for Christmas. The Responsorial Psalm 25, “to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul,” reminds us that all of our desires, which are created for the Divine, are now disordered from the Fall and we have to allow God to re-order them so He can guide our paths to Him. All of us need to recognize that we are sinners in need of a savior and that His paths are right for us, if we allow Him to guide us and teach us His truth.
As we look forward to Christmas day, we also look forward to the day when Jesus will come again. Today we light the candle of hope on our advent wreath. Just as the people of Israel found hope in the promises of God, we find hope in Jesus' promise that he will come again. Advent is not a time to grow weary and drowsy due to sin. It is time to elevate our being and with one voice say: “TO YOU, O LORD, I LIFT U