Getting Ready for the Coming


First Sunday of Advent

Is 2: 1-5; Rom 13: 11-14; Mt 24: 37-44

Dc. Larry Brockman


What if I told you that even if you had all your shopping done, all your gifts wrapped, your tree and all your lights up, all your cookies and goodies made, and all your Christmas cards mailed out, that you would still not ready for Christmas?  What a wake up call that would be, eh, and yet, that’s kind of what our readings are all about this morning, because all those things I just mentioned, cards and gifts and lights and trees- none of them is mentioned in our readings.  They don’t prepare us for the coming of Christ.  Rather, they just tell us how well we are prepared for the secular celebration of Christmas.   

Advent begins today, the season that does prepare us for the coming of Christ.  And, although Advent certainly prepares us for the coming of the Christ Child; it is also the season to prepare us for the second coming of Christ.   

Now the joy that we all celebrate over the coming of the Christ Child boils down to this:  That God kept His promise, his covenant, by sending us a redeemer.  And that should be a source of great Joy for all of us, knowing that God loved us so much that he sent His only Son into the World to live amongst us as one of us; and to show us the way, through the example of His life, for us to live in harmony with God and His plan.  That’s what the Gospel is- a roadmap showing us that way.   

And the joy of the second coming is this: that we lived the good life here on earth, and are ready for everlasting life in the Kingdom because we believed, really believed, and lived our life with the love of Christ in us, responding to the call that each of us receives from God to do his will.  And so, we are ready for death and the Last Judgment.   

Now the emphasis of our readings today is on this second coming of Christ.  All three readings talk about it in one way or another, as well as the consequences of that second coming.  First, Isaiah describes people streaming to the Heavenly Kingdom, symbolized by Jerusalem, where they will be judged.  A life in everlasting peace follows for those embraced by the judge.  Next, we have Paul advising the Romans to live worthy lives so that when Jesus comes, they will not be caught off guard, but will be prepared.  Lastly, Jesus tells us that most people will be living their normal lives when the end will come; and that some will be taken, and others will not.   

We need a reminder of these two comings every year.  First, we need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is the answer, and that the Christ Child was the advent, the coming, of our savior so we can celebrate Christmas with great joy, make festive arrangements, and exchange gifts.  But second, we need to be reminded of the second coming as well.  Because after we recognize the Christ Child as God, we must live in harmony with God’s plan by living according to the roadmap in the Gospel, so that we will be prepared and joyful over the second coming of Christ.   

Preparation for the second coming takes a little effort because we need to step back occasionally from the lives that we are living, and check on our preparedness.  We need to reflect on our lives in the light of our Faith and the Gospel that shows us the way; and make changes in our lives accordingly so that we can be ready- ready for the end of our world for us because it can come at any time.   

Why is Advent is the time for us to do this reflection?  Well, it occurs once a year on the Church calendar just before Christmas and the fulfillment of God’s promise for a Redeemer.  If there is something nagging us about our lives, something that isn’t quite right then that nagging feeling will keep us from experiencing the joy that should be ours at Christmas.  You know, it is easy for us all to fall into a routine, a rut as we go through life- working, going to school, raising kids, and all the associated activities  These activities can become routines that we don’t even think about.  They are punctuated with constant pressures of the real world- like illnesses, financial problems, and people problems; and by questions and concerns, like what am I doing with my life, and what is life really all about?  You can find yourself depressed or puzzled about your role in the world.  It is then that it helps to step back from life to reflect on where we are going and how God is active in our lives.  That’s what Advent Reflection is all about.   

So how should we reflect?   First, we need to be in the right frame of mind- a frame of mind in which we slow down, put things out of our mind, and ponder the Faith we have in God and where he is working in our lives.  As an example of how we can get in the right frame of mind  Consider coming to the Church this Tuesday evening at 7:15 PM.  The parish will present a Lessons and Carols Service to help us reflect on the real meaning of Advent and Christmas.  We will review the history of the incarnation, the coming of Christ in our scriptures; and those lessons from scripture will be accompanied by the music of the season giving us all an opportunity to think about what God did for us and relax us so that we can begin the reflection process.   

Then, we need to pray to God asking him to help us sense and feel what He has in mind for us going forward- what feels wrong about our lives versus what feels right; what gnawing or nagging feeling do we have about the course of our lives right now, and what can be done to come to peace with it.  Each of us has their own unique cross to bear and God will give us the grace to endure it if we ask Him.  And finally, based on these reflections, we need to do something about it.  To steer our course in whatever direction helps to improve our relationship with God.   

Advent is a wonderful opportunity to come closer to God.  Embrace the season and use it to reflect on your life.  And then savor the joy of the Christmas Season. 

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