A Blessed Second Sunday of Advent 2017

Image source: Archdiocese of Toronto

Beloved, I am getting this to you a day late, but did not want to not share with you a priest’s[1] homily from last Sunday – i.e., the First Sunday of Advent on this Second Sunday. To my mind, it contains our path–more, our marching orders, to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts, that we may truly love, honor and serve Him in this life, and be happy with Him in the next.

God bless and keep you throughout this week and each day until the coming of the Divine Babe in the Manger, the very Lord of life.

Today is the first Sunday of the liturgical year, and the beginning of Advent, the period of preparation for the coming of Christ on Christmas night. It was a common opinion among the Jews, accepted also by many of the early Christians, that four thousand years had elapsed between the fall of Adam and the coming of the Redeemer, four thousand long years of expectation. It is for this reason, possibly, that the Church, when arranging the liturgical cycles, gave Advent four Sundays, four weeks, each week representing, more or less, a thousand of those years.

But what is more important, is the manner in which we spend these four short weeks, the use we make of them or fail to make of them, will be a determining factor in our own future and eternal history. The happiness or the unhappiness of our eternal destiny will depend on our attitude to Christ. “To as many as received Him He gave the power of becoming Sons of God” (John 1:12). If we receive Him worthily, if we welcome Him as our Lord and Redeemer at Christmas when He comes to us in the form of a lowly baby, we will be able to lift up our head and our hearts to welcome Him when we meet Him at the judgment seat.

Today’s Gospel (Luke 21:25-33) contains our Lord’s own description of the general judgment or the

Second Coming of Christ. This particular Gospel has been chosen to help us begin the season of Advent well. The thought that a day of reckoning lies ahead, a day in which we will have to face Christ in His “power and majesty,” a day in which our innermost faults will be made known, and our every unforgiven sin will stand in testimony against us – such a thought will help us to put our accounts straight now and get our books in order while there is still time.

Father O’Sullivan[2] tells us that this is exactly what Advent is for.

Christ is coming now, not in His power and majesty, but as a humble fellow man in order to give us a chance to approach Him and show Him our love.

He is coming now, not as our Judge, but as the Advocate or Defending Counsel, to plead for our forgiveness with God.

He is coming now, not to pronounce sentence on us but to announce to us the consoling message of His gospel of mercy.

He is coming now, not to inflict the punishment we would possibly so richly deserve, but to apply to the wounds of our souls the healing balm of His grace.

He is coming now, not to condemn us to the everlasting death our sins would deserve, but He Himself, to die for us on the Cross of Calvary.

These are the thoughts today’s Gospel should suggest t us. These are the thoughts that will help us prepare our souls to receive Christ at Christmas. If we welcome Him now in all sincerity, if we give Him a home in our hearts, a home that has been cleansed of all sin by a sincere repentance, He will give us an everlasting home in His heavenly kingdom when the day of reckoning

You know, there were many doors shut against Him in Bethlehem on that first Christmas night. There will be doors shut against Him this Christmas too, the doors of the proudly sinful who have not the humility to ask Him for pardon. These are the men and women, who, on seeing the signs of the approaching God of creation, will wither and faint for fear. Well may they faint, for all their lives they have despised Jesus and turned their backs on Him. Now for the first and last time they will face Him, but it will be the meeting of the convicted criminal and the sentencing Judge.

We may be sinners, we may be very unworthy brothers of Christ; but remember, sins need not keep u from Christ nor earn for us eternal death. Unending separation from Christ comes only if, through lack of humility (which is pride), and lack of trust in our Lord (which is despair), we have not sought forgiveness.

He came to “take away the sins of the world.” He will take away our sins too, if we allow Him to . . . if we place them humbly at His feet in His sacrament of mercy (confession and penance).

Let us begin today then to prepare to give a truly hearty welcome to our loving Savior this Christmas, and if we do so the thought of the general judgment or of the awe-inspiring signs that will precede it, will not terrify us. Christ’s first coming is announced by the soft light of a friendly star, and by the heavenly music of the Angelic choir; His second coming will be ushered in by the crumbling universe and Gabriel’s stern trumpet calling all men to judgment. Those who receive Him now into their hearts and homes will “look up” and rejoice at His c coming.

[1] Father William Define, Pastor of Most Precious Blood Parish in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Father Define wanted me to be sure to tell you that he drew much of his sermon and inspiration from Father Kevin O’Sullivan’s, “My Sunday Reading,” 1957, The Bruce Publishing Co.

[2] My Sunday Reading, Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan OFM, 1957, The Bruce Publishing Co.