Sunday, November 27, 2016

Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent 2016

Anticipation, anticipation: it's making me late, it's keeping me waiting.  Every Advent the word that always comes to my mind is "anticipation".  Carly Simon sang these lyrics about 40 years ago but it was a commercial for Heinz Ketchup that really made them famous.  For all the younger generation here, there was a time when Ketchup was actually poured from a glass bottle; it took it's time.  There was no squeezing condiments back in the day.  Simon's lyrics go on to tell us that we can never know the days to come but we think about them anyway.  And then her final reminder, these are the good old days!

Think about it, we just survived the nasty political election of 2016, we survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday so we want to anticipate something good, like Christmas.  And Christmas is a wonderful thing to anticipate but we need to stay right here and celebrate Advent.  Advent just began today but we are already moving on to Christmas as many of us might have stood in those mind-boggling lines and fighting over the newest gadget or the best deal.  We wait and we prepare and we anticipate but we wait and prepare and anticipate the wrong things.

As people of faith we should be waiting for the coming of Jesus, not just his arrival at Christmas, but when he comes again, his second coming.  And our wait should be one of joyful hope!

So Advent Day 1 could be called Happy New Year.  We begin anew with our liturgical year, we move on to Cycle A and Gospel readings from Matthew and we wear the purple.  And no this has nothing to do with LSU and coach Oeaux!  It is for Advent.  I mentioned the Gospel of Matthew so where do we begin, at the beginning?  No, we begin way back in the 24th chapter and we realize this has nothing to do with Advent or Christmas.  Well, that may be because we limit our Advent celebration to awaiting the coming of Jesus as the babe of Bethlehem.  But Advent is also the season that prepares us for the 2nd coming of Jesus because He will come again to judge the living and the dead.  We hear in this Gospel apocalyptic language, references to the end times because the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not know.  If this is what the Gospel is all about let me mention what it is NOT about.  It's not a reference to the so-called rapture.  Church teaching is incredibly clear; there is no rapture.  Rapture is a recent teaching that began with a Rev. Darby just about 200 years ago as part of a movement called dispensationalism.  The rapture was made famous with the movie series called Left Behind starring Kirk Cameron.  Again, to be clear, there is no rapture and the best thing we can do with the movies Left Behind is to leave them behind.

Instead we are called to prepare for the 2nd coming of Jesus by being alert and staying awake.  We are called to focus on Jesus truly being the center of our lives, the center of our hearts and souls.  Is Jesus the one we trust completely to save us?  Do we understand that Jesus will come again to judge us, with great mercy and His justice.

So as Advent begins, how can we prepare with great care.  Remember, we are willing to prepare for so many other things, all temporary, by standing in Black Friday lines.  So I ask, do we prepare with long lines for Jesus?  Where are the lines for Him?  In this very Church, every single day of the year Jesus is waiting for the lines to come to Him.  He waits everyday patiently in the Tabernacle for our visits, He waits patiently throughout the week in the Priest who sits in the confessional, He waits as the gracious host in the Eucharistic Host at every Communion and in every opportunity when we offer Adoration and Benediction.  Where are the lines for Jesus?  The same Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary, dies for us upon that Cross, who rose from the dead and now reigns in Heaven, the same Jesus who will come again is with us here in this very place.  Where are the lines for Him?

What are some things we can do to prepare for the 2nd coming of Jesus?  Consider attending daily Mass during Advent, pray the prayers of each Mass every day, go to Confession and take advantage of this coming Friday.  You see this Friday is 1st Friday, the only time a 1st Friday occurs in Advent.  We will have Adoration from about 8:30 and lasting all day until Benediction at 7 pm.  He will wait patiently for you and me, He will wait patiently for the lines who come to prepare for Him to come again. 

Jesus wants, He desires a deeper, more personal, more intimate relationship with all of us.  Can we seek that relationship this week in our prayer and our preparation?  Will we remain alert and stay awake to complete our preparation? 

I hope we are still full of joyful anticipation, not just for the coming of Christmas, but for the coming of Jesus into our lives.  My our anticipation not keep us waiting but help us to be fully prepared; because right here, right now, this first day of Advent; these are the good old days!

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