Homily for the First Sunday in Advent ©, December 2nd, 2018
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
By Father Scott Karnik
Many of us wonder what Advent and Christmas are all about. We’ve gone through this numerous times, especially those of us who are older. What does this mean? Why is this important? Is it important? Yes, it is important because Advent prepares us for the coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior. No Jesus, no salvation, no forgiveness of sins. It is important to know that Advent is a way for us to prepare for Jesus Christ’s coming at the end of time. Jesus Christ is coming again and He will judge us. He will come with authority at the end of time. This end of time is certain. We don’t know when it will be. Don’t bother trying to calculate the time of the end either. It’s futile.
Jesus does tell His disciples and us how to behave while waiting for His coming. We are to avoid the cares and pleasures of this world. They are thorns which choke God’s Word. These daily pressures and cares lull people into a false security. Jesus tells us to watch and to pray. Since we don’t know when Jesus will come, He tells us to be ready now and ready every day. Then we can stand erect, expectant, and ready, like His disciples and unlike God’s enemies, who will panic.
St. Paul tells the Thessalonian Christians to increase their love for each other and everyone else too. The purpose of St. Paul’s message is to strengthen their hearts so that they are spotlessly pure in the presence of God on judgment day, when Jesus comes with His Holy Ones. St. Paul urges the Thessalonian Christians to prepare completely for the Last Judgment. Be ready.
So how can we be ready for Jesus’s Second Coming? The answer is in today’s psalm, Psalm 25. In it, the author laments his sinfulness and asks God for forgiveness and mercy. The psalmist also asks God to instruct him in the new covenant. “…guide me in your truth and teach me.” The psalmist asks God to teach him in his heart and soul. That is the place of God’s new covenant with His people. The psalmist’s main thought is contrition and forgiveness of his sins by God. He knows he is a sinner. He does not claim innocence. He asks God to forget the sins of his youth because God is always ready to teach and guide the meek in the right way of life.
So the answer to how do we prepare for Jesus’s Second Coming is to admit our sinfulness, ask God to forgive us, and to teach His new covenant laws in our hearts and souls. In our wonderful Roman Catholic faith, the best way to do that is the beautiful sacrament of confession. We will host our communal reconciliation service here at St. Anthony’s on Monday, December tenth, at seven pm. That is a good way to prepare ourselves. We admit our sinfulness, be contrite, confess our sins, and ask God to teach us His new covenant in our souls. We must develop that attitude daily. This is a way that this Christmas can be more meaningful. We can be more contrite, loving, humble, and merciful. Confession is a good, sacramental first step. We develop our readiness for that day of God’s judgment by repentance from our sins. Indeed, Advent is a real rehearsal for Christmas and for that day when Jesus comes again. Our contrition prevents a false sense of security, our being drowsy from the cares of this world. And God reassures us. He promises in Jeremiah that the Messiah is surely coming. Judah and Israel can count on it. God prophesies through Jeremiah that Israel’s future rests securely on two firm foundations: the new covenant of God’s law written in our hearts, and in the new David to come: Jesus Christ.
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