How to Prepare for the Coming of Christ

 1st Sunday of Advent

Jer 33: 14-16; 1 Thes: 3: 12- 4: 2; Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36

Dc. Larry Brockman

Do you feel it?  Do you feel as if the sun and the moon and the stars are in disarray?  Is that what your life seems like to you?  A racetrack full of obstacles and challenges to overcome, but somehow, not full of a deeper meaning and especially, not particularly filled with joy.  If so, welcome to Advent, because Advent is your wake up call.  That’s what the message of today’s readings is.  It’s time to wake up and get ready for the coming of Christ.  But what does that really mean, the coming of Christ?   

Let me start with an example:  Perhaps you have heard of Michelle Malkin.  Michelle is a journalist and popular commentator on Cable News.  Michelle was immersed in a busier and busier schedule a few years back,  A schedule filled with interviews and other events,  As well as her regular job.  As a result, she was not spending much time with her 2 children.  One day, as she was returning from a particularly busy day, she started up her steep driveway in her SUV and passed a few neighborhood children below her.  She was in a hurry to get dinner ready.  So she left the car at the entrance to the garage, and started toward her house.  But she forgot to set the parking brake, and so, the car started drifting down the steep driveway towards the children.  She watched in horror as the car gathered speed and headed downward right towards the children.  Suddenly, the car swerved slightly and struck a birch tree stopping it cold.  What a relief she thought.  But then, it dawned on her how lucky she really was because that incident woke her up.  She had been so much in a hurry, that she didn’t take the time to put safety first.  But, she had been given a second chance- no real harm was done- so, she used that second chance to reflect on what was really important in her life- to get her priorities straight, and to modify her routine so that she had the time to do things right,  And to experience the joy in life that her family brought her.  That’s what Jesus is asking us to do today, and that is the message of Advent.   

Every one of has a life that has settled into a pattern.  It may be a fast paced pattern like Michelle Malkin’s, or it may be a slow, almost boring pattern.  But whatever the pattern, now is the time to   Step back from the groove you are in over the next four weeks and reflect on that pattern, and how to change it for the good.   

Now there are two things that we need to reflect on and be ready for:  The first is the second coming of Christ, and that is the topic of the Gospel.  As Jesus says, that second coming can come at any time for any of us- it will most likely come when we least expect it.  It is about judgment for wayward ways, in particular, the wayward way of the pattern of our lives.  Ask yourself what is there about the pattern of your life that needs a change?  What is it that gnaws at you and says the track I am on is just not right.  It may be because you are too harried with job and responsibilities, always cutting corners to get as much into the agenda as possible; but never having enough time to do things the right way and to put things into the right priority, kind of like Michelle Malkin’s problem.  Or perhaps you spend too much time absorbed in your own world, immersed in video games or football or telephone marathons with your friends; and as a result, your work or family or household suffers.  Or perhaps you have settled into a pattern of withdrawal, of non-involvement, where days and weeks go by and all of your activity revolves around yourself.  You don’t extend yourself by getting out and relating to others.  These are all patterns that can harbor sin in a social context, because the life styles that foster them ignore the responsibility we have to participate fully in the world in the context that God has planned for us.   

The second thing we need to get ready for is the coming of the baby Jesus at Christmas.  This is the topic of our first reading- the prediction of the coming of the Messiah as promised,   the coming of God incarnate as a human being.  Because of that arrival, we have been given a great gift.  God’s gift, His son, shows us the way to perfection through Jesus’ example, because Jesus is not only human; He is divine.  That means that God, who transcends all of us, meaning that He is far above us and not easily grasped, nevertheless made His divine presence immanent to us- close to us, in a form which all of us can relate to, a person like us in all things except sin.     

And so, Jesus arrival is a time of great joy because it heralds the entry into the world of a person whose pattern of life is wholly perfect and acceptable to God.  We have been given the Gospels to tell us what Jesus did and said so we can follow that pattern, for as Jeremiah predicts,  “He shall do what is just and right in the land”.   

And so, Advent is that special time of year, when we are asked to step back and reflect.  Reflect on what is wrong with our lives as a pattern, so that we will be prepared for the second coming of Christ at any time.  And then we are called upon to reflect on how to fix it,  We can do that by reflecting on the coming of the Christ Child, and the pattern of life Jesus laid out for us in the Gospels, so that we may modify our lives accordingly.   

Why should we do all this reflecting?  Well, St. Paul said this:  “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of Our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones”.   

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