Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Homily - Keep Awake

Last evening I was chatting with come colleagues, and I noted that unlike any other important season in the liturgical year, Advent really does not have any important feast or event to mark its beginning. Christmas starts with Christmas Day and ends with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  Lent starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with the Paschal Triduum.  Easter begins with Easter Sunday, and ends with Pentecost.  Advent though, advent just happens.  There's no important feast or event, it just happens, the First Sunday of Advent comes along with no fanfare, we just roll from Ordinary time right into Advent almost unnoticed.  It's probably the reason we add things to this day, the blessing and lighting of the Advent wreath, just to have some mark.  The fact that Advent just "happens" is, I think, very significant, and says something about the nature of the this season, and what we are looking forward to, since the word Advent means that something is coming.  As our scriptures point out to us today, we are looking forward to Christ's return in glory, but no one knows when it will take place, there will be no warning, it will just happen.  Some years back I began to wonder to myself, why it is that we have two occasions in the liturgical year when we focus on the Second Coming of Christ, after all, we just spent the last four weeks of Ordinary Time focused on Christ's return, and now we spend the first part of Advent doing the same thing.  It was only when I realized the slight shift that I understood the reason.  As our readings begin to unfold over the next days and weeks, it is clear that we are looking towards Christ's return, but unlike the end of Ordinary Time, we are not looking at the time leading up to His return, but to the time after.  We are looking forward to that time of glory and joy, the new creation when God will show us true love and majesty, and we will know joy unlike anything we have ever known or experienced here in this life.  I'm sure many have and will continue to use the prospect of Jesus' Second Coming as a reason for fear, for scrupulosity, trying to be perfect in the face of judgement.  But the invitation we are being given this day is to "keep awake", not in fear, but in anticipation.  We are invited to make ourselves ready, not in expectation of judgement, but eagerly awaiting the joy and glory of what will follow Christ's return, we prepare ourselves, because we want to be a part of it, we want to be there when it happens.  Therefore we are invited in this holy season and always to keep awake.

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