Advent – An Opportunity to Prepare
Today is the First Sunday of Advent and the beginning of the new Liturgical Year. We tend to think of Advent as a preparation for the First Coming of Our Lord at Christmas which is the promise in today’s First Reading from the prophet Jeremiah. But it is much more than that. It really points to His Second Coming at the end of the world, which is what today’s Gospel is about. We don’t know when that will be, so the message is to always be ready. This means having a personal relationship or encounter with JESUS. This was the theme of Bishop Patrick’s recent Pastoral Letter. He has asked for the following quote from the ‘General Directory for Catechesis’ to be included in this week’s newsletter:
“The Christian faith is, above all, conversion to JESUS Christ, full and sincere adherence to His person and the decision to walk in His footsteps. Faith is a personal encounter with JESUS Christ making of oneself a disciple of Him. This demands a permanent commitment to think like Him, to judge like Him and to live as He lived. In this way the believer unites himself to the community of disciples and appropriates the faith of the Church. This “Yes” to JESUS Christ, Who is the fullness of the revelation of the Father is twofold: a trustful abandonment to God and a loving assent to all that He has revealed to us. This is possible only by means of the action of the Holy Spirit.”(General Directory for Catechesis, 53,54).
So there are a number of resolutions one can make to help us grow in our relationship with Our Lord this Advent. Prayer is always a good start. Our Lord says in today’s Gospel, “Stay awake praying at all times.” Decide that you are going to pray EVERY day for 15 minutes and stick to it. Work or studies permitting, come to Mass at least once during the week. We receive JESUS Himself in the Eucharist. What better way to get to know Him? Make an effort to come to Adoration on Saturday mornings and then confess your sins to help ensure you are always in a state of grace. You never know when God will call you from this life. It may “be sprung on you suddenly like a trap.” If you haven’t been to Confession in a long while, now is the time. Is there someone you need to forgive? Perhaps read the Gospel or some spiritual book – there are plenty of choices available on the CTS rack at the back of the church. Say the Rosary or part of it every day. There are so many things we can do.
At a time and on a day unknown to us, Our Lord is coming again – and our efforts to be prepared for that encounter with Him will almost certainly be numbered among the most important things we have ever done. Let us not waste time. Stay awake and be prepared!
Fr Paul Gillham, IC