1st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
December 1, 2013
Even before Thanksgiving Christmas items were appearing in the stores. I saw a Santa in a mall two weeks before Thanksgiving. Radio stations are beginning to play Christmas music. The Christmas lights are going up.
But it isn’t Christmas yet!
In fact we have a whole season to celebrate in our Church before we get to Christmas. It’s called Advent.
There can be no doubt that Christmas is important. It is the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Indeed it is second only to Easter on our church calendar.
In fact we have a season just to help us get ourselves spiritually ready for Christmas. We call this season Advent and we begin it today.
Advent means “coming”. It is the coming of our Lord that we celebrate during this season. During Advent, we are called to think about Jesus’ coming in two ways, his first coming at the first Christmas and his second coming at the end of the ages.
Thus Advent is both a season of joyful anticipation of our Christmas celebration of Jesus’ first coming. It is also a penitential season as we think about our readiness for the second coming of Jesus. Our liturgical color for Advent is violet (known as purple to many) symbolizing our need to reflect upon our sinfulness and our need to change.
Christmas is a time of joy and hope so it really shouldn’t be surprising we tend to want to jump ahead to Christmas. Why think about our sins when we could think happy thoughts about Christmas?
It is precisely our thoughts of Christmas that should lead us to reflect on our readiness and to make changes in our lives. Jesus coming into the world is a wonderful thing. But Jesus doesn’t want to just be in our lives at Christmas. Jesus wants to be part of our lives each and every day.
Of course, we should want Jesus in our lives each and every day. What is it we pray in the Our Father? Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done.
So we have Advent as a special season to reflect upon lives and to discern what changes we need to make in our lives.
This can be a radical change as Isaiah speaks of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Won’t it be wonderful if everyone changed their lives so there would be no need to for war and violence?
To help us make the necessary changes, God instructs us in his ways in the scriptures we hear at Mass that we may walk in his paths.
Why do this now? Can’t it wait?
That’s your call. Jesus tells us that the coming of the Lord will happen just like the flood, nobody knew it was coming (except Noah).
What does Paul say to us? You know the time; it is hour now for you to awake from sleep.
When we hear Paul say “you know the time”, one might think it refers to the time of the second coming (which we don’t know) but that isn’t what Paul is pointing to.
Paul is telling the Romans it is time to change. They have heard of Jesus and his teachings. Now is the time to begin to live what Jesus teaches us.
It is time for us to make changes in our lives, to recommit ourselves to the Lord. We don’t know when the end will come but, as Paul says, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
So, we begin Advent today by thinking about our failings. This should lead us all the more to realize the great gift Jesus is to us for he brings us forgiveness made possible by his love.
What greater gift is there than Jesus’ love and forgiveness?