Happy New Year! Today, as we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new Liturgical Year. And yet, something seems strange with our readings: instead of focusing on stories of preparing for the birth of Jesus, we hear Jesus speaking about the end times. In fact, all of our readings focus on our need to be prepared for the coming of the Lord in glory, or as Isaiah so beautifully puts it, our need to always walk in the light of the Lord.
The readings that we hear today remind us that this short season of Advent serves a double purpose in our lives. It is true that it is a preparation for the celebration of Christmas, when we commemorate the Nativity of our Lord. However, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of preparation for the holidays, we can often forget that this season is also about preparing for the Lord’s coming in glory. Jesus tells us to “keep awake,” and always be sure that our hearts are ready to meet the Lord when he comes.
Many times in our lives, it can feel as if we are going through our days on autopilot. We mindlessly shift from one activity to another, without really paying attention to what is going on around us, or the ways that God may be trying to speak to us. These readings are a reminder to us to “wake up” and be present to the world: to pay attention to the little ways that God is continually bestowing his grace upon us, and upon our lives. The more we are attentive to the presence of God in our lives now, the more we will be prepared to meet him when he comes: whether that coming occurs at the moment of our death, or at the Lord’s return in Glory.
As we journey through this season of Advent, I invite you to spend some time reflecting on how you can better prepare your heart and soul for the coming of the Lord. Advent is a perfect season to return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, if you have been away for some time. During Advent, we are going to do our best to have extra Priests available during our scheduled confession times, to enable more people to experience God’s mercy. As Pope Francis has continually reminded us, the Lord desires to give us his mercy, and never tires of forgiving those who come to him seeking forgiveness.
May the Lord continue to bless each of you during this season of preparation.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB