1st Sunday of Advent, Year C: 2012
Today we begin the season of advent. This is the liturgical season where we prepare for the celebration of the great feast of Christmas, the feast of the Word of God becoming flesh. Since this is the first Sunday of Advent and we are preparing for the feast of Christmas, you might expect warm fuzzy readings about the birth of Christ. Instead, we get some particularly terrifying readings about the end of time. Why is that?
Advent is the season where we prepare to celebrate the feast of the first coming of Christ; but, the Church, in her wisdom, gives us Advent as a yearly reminder that, not only has Christ come once, but he will certainly come again. Sometimes it is easy for us to get a bit complacent in our waiting for the coming of Christ. I mean, it has been 2000 years after all. Subconsciously, we might get the feeling that we don’t need to be mindful of Christ’s coming, but make no mistake: Jesus will come again. We will all see him face to face, either at his second coming in glory or the moment of our death. Advent is a good time for us to examine our readiness to see the Lord.
So in our readings today, Jesus tells us what this means. He basically shows that there are two camps when it comes to the second coming. Some people are totally caught unprepared. These people, Jesus says, will die of fright. Wow, what a powerful image. Those who are not ready for the coming of Christ will die of fright. Then there is the other camp: when you see these things stand up straight and get ready for your redemption is at hand. In other words, if we are ready for Christ the second coming will not cause us to die of fright, quite the contrary. Those who are ready for Christ will see in his coming the redemption we all long for. Which camp do you want to be in: those who die of fright or those who are excited by his coming? Obviously we all want to be in the second camp.
But, Jesus has a warning for all his believers: beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing or drunkenness, but also by the anxieties of daily life. In other words, don’t let our sinfulness cause us to be unprepared for Christ’s coming. But not only that, being carried away by the anxieties of life can cause us to be unprepared for his coming. I don’t know about you, but Christmas time can be full of anxieties: we have so much going on at this time of year that it can be quite easy to let Christ drift to the background.
This is why Advent is so great. It is a yearly reminder to all of us to keep Christ in the center of our lives, in the center of our hearts and minds. It is popular this time of year to see bumper stickers and signs that say: keep Christ in Christmas. And that is certainly true, but we will only keep Christ in Christmas if we invite him into our lives once again during this season of Advent.
What a great way to begin this season of Advent by celebrating the Holy Eucharist together. Here at this Holy Mass Christ comes to us, just as he did 2000 years ago. This time, he does not come as a baby, but under the appearances of bread and wine. But, it is the same Jesus. If we welcome him here and now into our lives and into our hearts here at this Eucharist and during this season of Advent, then we will be ready to welcome him when he comes again in glory.