December 1, 2013 - First Sunday of Advent, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
We are now embarking on one of the busiest times of our year, the run-up to Christmas. We’re rushing around trying to get everything done before Christmas.
We’re busy watching for sales, making a list and checking it twice, getting ready for Christmas parties and counting the days.
It should be an exciting time. So why is it that so many of us are feeling so empty inside, overwhelmed by the reality that there is always more to do and not enough time to do it?
We get so consumed with everyday affairs that we forget all about our spiritual well being. And so we begin to lack passion, we begin to lack purpose.
We go through the motions with no sense of fulfillment. We feel depleted, defeated, tired, worn out, empty. Rushing here and there, but getting nowhere fast.
The people in Noah's day were the same way. Don't you remember the story? Noah was told by God to prepare for the coming flood by building an ark.
All the while, Noah's neighbors were busy with their daily lives. They either didn't notice Noah making preparations; or if they did, they made fun of him.
The people in Noah's day were not necessarily evildoers. They were caught up in their everyday affairs, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.
So they were not prepared when the flood came. They were completely caught off guard. As a result they were destroyed.
Jesus says it will be like that when the Son of Man comes. We do not know when but we know that the Lord will come.
And because we don't know when, we cannot prepare for his coming at the last minute.
So we must begin making preparations now. Stories of the end, like the one in today’s Gospel, are really stories about the here and now. Certainly, we can fear being the one left behind.
But preparation for the day of the Lord does not mean an end to our everyday lives. So what’s the difference between those who are taken and those who are left behind?
Preparation, inner vigilance and heightened awareness seem to make all the difference.
And that's what this season of Advent is all about. It is our annual reminder that we should be about the business of preparing our hearts for the Lord's coming.
This Advent season is a time to be alert. As part of our alertness we could spend some time recognizing our true priorities before it's too late.
This Advent season is a time to be active. What Advent activity will we choose? Here are a few suggestions:
We could spend more quality time with our children and grandchildren instead of buying them more stuff. They already have too many things, but never get enough of us.
We could turn off the TV and the computer and the ipad and disconnect from our phones in order to spend more time actively talking to the people in our lives instead of passively watching others on a screen.
We could set aside time each day for prayer and reflection and spiritual reading. The Gospel of Matthew is a good place to start because it's the gospel we will read in church this year.
We could encourage someone to come back to church this holiday season. Or maybe we need to work on being more faithful ourselves.
We could make a list of four or five virtues that we need to work on, then make flash cards so that we can randomly practice one virtue each day of advent.
We could look more carefully at our stewardship of time, talent and treasure, especially our gift of time. People don't volunteer anymore.
We've become selfish and no longer give of our time. Our stewardship is our gift to the Lord. What kind of gift do you give?
These are just some ways we can prepare for Jesus' coming.
This Advent season is a time of preparation. As part of our preparation we could also reflect on the hidden areas of our lives and ask the Lord for the courage to live more freely in the light.
The demands of everyday life are merciless, they are unending. There is always more to do and not enough time to do it.
The readings this weekend give us fair notice.
Take this Season of Advent seriously.
The spiritual exercises we choose will help us stay awake and be ready for the Lord when he comes.
While the world rushes around carrying bundles of packages, we pause today to light a single candle.
Its flame reminds us to pay attention to what the holy season of Advent wants to give us: a time of preparation, a time of action, a time to watch and wait with alertness for the Lord.
We must prepare for the Lord's coming. Otherwise, we just might get left behind.