Saturday, November 26, 2016

First Sunday of Advent - a time of preparation, renewal and anticipation

For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Petition:  “All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.” (Opening prayer of the Mass)

1. Advent, a time of preparation: “Stay awake, therefore! You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.” Although the date for Christ’s birth, and probably a few Christmas parties with family and friends, is set on our calendar, we really have no idea of the day or the moment that Christ will knock at the door of our hearts. God’s time is God’s time, not ours. We cannot second-guess him; we cannot know what he will do for us in any moment. There is a story of an old shoemaker who dreamt the Christ Child was going to come and visit him on Christmas day. He waited, anxiously looking for the divine guest. Although many people visited his shop, and he welcomed each with joy and kindness, the day passed without Christ coming; or so he thought. It was later revealed to him that each person who had passed through his shop was Christ. We are not always aware of Christ’s presence in our lives, because we get too busy to notice him. How would you treat Christ if he were to come to you today? Have you been treating everyone as if they were Christ coming to see you? This Advent is the perfect opportunity to stop and get ourselves ready for Christ. It is a time to prepare ourselves spiritually so that we are able to recognize Christ and to be aware of how much he actually presents himself in our lives.

2. Advent, a time of renewal: In the second reading St. Paul says, “Let us cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” How merciful God is to give us time to renew our lives, to purify them from the bad habits and ways of darkness that we have fallen into. God wants us to be renewed, refreshed, purified, not because he needs it, but rather because we need it. He gives us this time to prepare and renew ourselves so that we will be happier. No one appreciates an unexpected guest or visitor when their room, house, or apartment is a disaster! We hate to have people arrive at our front door when we are not ready for them. So, God is giving us the chance (several weeks) to get ourselves ready for his coming. Is your room clean? Are you ready for Christ to come into your home and see you?

3. Advent, a time of anticipation: Is there a holiday better than Christmas? Who does not get excited about presents, Christmas trees, caroling, Midnight Mass, and many other holiday traditions? Our culture and society begin preparing us for the parties and gifts, food and decorations from the day after Thanksgiving, and our anticipation of the great event grows each day that passes. What about our spiritual anticipation? Is there also a spiritual anticipation building up each day? 

Christ, give me the grace of anticipating you, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, coming to my heart. There can be nothing better than the moment that you enter my heart and conquer it for your kingdom. Jesus, I love you. Help me to grow in the joy and excitement of your coming. What can I do to prepare?

Resolution: Plan to meet Christ in the sacrament of Reconciliation this first week of Advent as a way to prepare for his coming at Christmas. Set the date and time.

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