November 28, 2021
Advent is that time we prepare for the coming of Christ. That coming will happen everyday, and for sure, at our death, but often we don't give that much thought. So, this is the time to, once again, focus on the coming of Christ in our lives. What keeps us from recognizing Christ every day?
The readings can remind us to take this time, before the celebration of His birth, to reflect on where we are in seeing Christ daily.
God loves us and always has great mercy and compassion when we turn to Him.
Advent can be that period of time we are called to look deep within, and see where we are spiritually.
It is so easy to simply reject this and say, "Well, maybe next Advent."
Will we have a next Advent?
In the first reading Jeremiah has already spoken again and again warning the kings and the people that they have placed too much worship, attention, on political and worldly things. The reading we hear today was written after all the warnings, and at the time when Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people taken into the captivity of Babylon (about 587 B.C.). Things could not have been worse. Yet, Jeremiah gives words of encouragement. In spite of their lack of faith in God and placing their faith in worldly things, God did never abandon them.
The daily coming of Jesus is where we experience God's mercy and love. Yet we can be like the people Jeremiah was addressing who simply would not listen until they were taken into exile and had to face all the devastating experiences that came.
Advent Wreath First Sunday of Advent
That same not willing to listen can also happen to us, especially when all is going pretty well in our lives. That is one reason Advent is so important for us so, we can experience the coming of the Christ not just at the celebration of His Birth, or at our own death, but every day.
Maybe the question becomes how can we experience Him daily?
The starting point is to look at our own lives.
Are we like the people in the first reading putting too much trust in this world.
Are we believing that we will not die tomorrow?
In the Gospel reading we hear Jesus say,
"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap."
In other words, we won't experience the daily coming of Christ from our thinking that the world and its trapping will lead to the kingdom and to the experience of the coming of Christ.
Will we listen this Advent?
The second reading gives us a hint as to the answer.
The author, around 50 A. D., encourages the Thessalonians to continue to strive to love all. That must have been a real challenge to those new Christians who we so persecuted and had experienced, like us, the ups and downs in life.
But to experience the coming of Christ we, like the Thessalonian, must pray for the courage to look deep within and see, do we love? Even the difficult person? Even the enemy? Even the one we disagree with? Even the one who will not listen to us? In other words, love to the enemy.
This can be a difficult challenge for each of us. It is so easy not to look within and to make excuses as to why we don't love as Jesus has shown us.
Perhaps, this is why the Church encourages us to use the sacrament of Penance, Reconciliation, during this time of Advent.
Pray, with courage, to see ourselves as we really are, (our inability at times to love), and to turn to God who is waiting to fill us with his mercy and compassion.