First Sunday of Advent
November 28, 2021 — Year C
Readings: Jer 33:14-16 / Ps 25 / 1 Thes 3:12-4:2 / Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor
Today is the first day of Advent and also the first day of the liturgical calendar of the Church. That’s why some would say it’s the New Year for the Church.
Every time we hear the word Advent, what comes to our mind? Perhaps we would say, “Christmas is near.” Yes, Christmas is near, but it’s not yet Christmas.
Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival.’ In this season of Advent, the Church invites us to prepare for the coming of the Lord into our lives. The Church teaches us there are three ways in which the Lord comes into our lives.
The first coming was when the Lord came to us in Bethlehem, at Christmas more than two thousand years ago. The birth of Christ has changed the lives of many believers. Because of this birth, we are given an idea of what kind of God we are worshipping and believing in. We are worshipping a God who became man in order to understand our situation and to save us. The birth of Christ teaches us truly what love is.
The second way of coming is when He will come at the end of time. This is what we call the Parousia, or the Second Coming of Christ into our lives. This one is still to come. This is something that some people are worried about and afraid of, maybe because they are not yet ready to face God. But the Second Coming of Christ into our lives can also give delight to some people because of the belief that God is merciful, loving, and forgiving.
The third way God comes is Christ’s coming to us in our day-to-day lives. The Church teaches us that Christ comes to us every time we come to church and receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Every time the Word is proclaimed, Christ comes to us. Every time we are touched by the homily of a priest or by any sharing, the Lord speaks to us. Christ also comes to us every time we see Him in the poor people that we help, in the needy that we help.
These are the three ways God comes into our lives: He comes at the first Christmas; at the Second Coming; and He comes to us in our day-to-day lives. And we know, Advent has four weeks – four Sundays of Advent. So, what do we need to do in order to prepare during the season of Advent? I have four suggestions.
During the first week, make sure you get reconciled with God. Every day during the first week, give yourself ten minutes of silence, and examine your conscience. Try to recall the many times you have offended God. After you examine your conscience, ask the Lord’s forgiveness. Conclude your period of reflection, your examination of conscience, by offering a rosary every day.
Also in the first week, try to come to Confession. In our parish, we have Confessions every Wednesday from 5:45 to 6:45. But during the season of Advent, we’ve added one more hour for Confession: every Friday right after the 9:30 Mass. We will have a Holy Hour, and during that time, I will hear Confessions… probably 10:15 to 11:15. So, with Holy Hour and Confession every Friday during the Season of Advent, we have two opportunities each week to go to Confession and prepare ourselves for the season of Advent.
Let us remember the saying, “There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.” Very true! Our sleep, our life, is different, is peaceful when our conscience is clean.
During the second week, try to be reconciled with your neighbors. Every day take ten minutes to reflect and examine your conscience and recall the times you have offended anybody. Be humble and ask for forgiveness. Say “Sorry,” and mean it. This may be a little thing, but when it is done sincerely, it will give great peace, both to the offended and the offender. Ask for forgiveness and be reconciled. Someone writes, “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to move on is the happiest.”
During the third week, try to look for someone who needs your help most. In other words, be Jesus to someone who is in great need. It may be just one person, but do something to help the person and to make their life easier.
And in the fourth week, reflect, and know your gift, and share it with the Church. Try to recall the gifts you have received from God. This can be your talent, your knowledge, your time, your treasure, your faith – any grace you have received from God. Reflect on it, and try to return it to God by giving it back to the Church. Share with the Church the blessings you’ve received from Him.
These are the four things we need to do to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus into our lives. Most of us will prepare ourselves by decorating our houses, putting up Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and all those really elaborate things. Yes, they are important. But let us remember that they are just externals: physical, and material. The best preparation happens inside your heart.