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Preparing for the Coming

Soon we will celebrate the first Coming of Jesus with our Christmas season. Christmas is too important to celebrate with just a single day. We celebrate Christmas a season that begins with our Christmas Masses and lasts until we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.

Christmas is a time of hope. The birth of Jesus fulfilled God’s promise to send a messiah. In the first reading for this First Sunday of Advent, Jeremiah writes from imprisonment. Jeremiah provides the Lord’s assurance that He will fulfill his promise to “raise up for David a just shoot.” Even today, Christmas gives us hope. This is why many people come to church on Christmas that don’t the rest of the year. We need the hope that seeing baby Jesus in a manger brings.

We face “anxieties of daily life” that keep us from hope. We might become lax in waiting and fail to live as God calls us. Then the day of Jesus’ Second Coming will catch us by surprise. We need to “be vigilant at all times” and pray for the strength we need from God. With the hope that God gives, like Jeremiah writing from prison, we can endure.

Jesus tells us that there will be signs. The signs He describes in the gospels have been fulfilled. The first coming of Jesus gives us hope. However, there are those who “will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming.” At the Second Coming even “the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

Should we fear the Second Coming?

That depends. Are you keeping vigilant? Are you following the Lord’s path? Do you listen to the Lord’s Truth? Do you keep the commandments? Do you lift your soul up to the Lord?

Then you do not need to fear the day when the Son of Man comes on “a cloud with power and great glory.” You can “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

What if you aren’t keeping vigilant? What if you have wandered from the Lord’s path? What if you have not kept the Lord’s Commandments? Should you be afraid?

That depends. Are you sorry for your sins? Are you willing to humble yourself and change your ways? If you are, then there is still hope for your salvation for, as the psalm says, the Lord “shows sinners the way…and teaches the humble his way.

There is hope. It is difficult to change. It can even seem impossible for us to change by ourselves. There is good news. We are not alone. The Lord is with us. Using Paul’s words to the Thessalonians, we pray “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.

The Lord wants to save us. Jesus came at his first coming to save us. Jesus came to teach, heal, and proclaim the good news. Most of all, Jesus came to save us through his death on the Cross. Thus, even though we are sinners, we might be saved. Jesus wants to save us. To let him, we confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As I said before, Christmas is too important to celebrate as a single day. So, we celebrate it as a season. In fact, Christmas is so important that we have a season to prepare for it. Today we begin our Advent season. The word “advent” means coming. During Advent, we prepare for our celebration of the first coming of Jesus at Christmas and we look forward to the Second Coming.

As we look forward to the Second Coming with the hope we have from the first coming, Advent can be a wake-up call for us. How are we doing? What do we need to change in our lives? Where do we need God’s help in our lives?

Mindful that we need God’s help, I end with the words that begin the Collect (opening prayer) at Mass this weekend, “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ.”

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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