Saturday, December 1, 2007

You Have One New Message

(1st Sunday of Advent, A)

Let’s say you went home from Mass today and there was a message on your answering machine. So you go to listen to it and you hear,

“Hello, so-and-so, this is Your Lord Jesus Christ. I’d like to come see you, maybe talk about a few things. So if it’s o.k. with you, I’ll be by the house sometime on Wednesday afternoon.”

What would you do if you got this message? What would you do if the Lord himself was coming by to see you three days from now? Would you clean house a little bit? Would you go buy some good coffee or maybe bake a cake so that you had something nice to offer him when he comes? Would you try to bend your heart and mind back into a spirit of prayer, so as to be found watchful in prayer when the Lord comes? Would you make an extra effort to leave your sins behind as Paul recommends today in the second reading?

Brothers and sisters, this is what the season of Advent is all about. It’s a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. As the days get to be the darkest they will be all year, and as nature around us goes into its winter sleep, we ought to take the hint. It’s a time to quiet our hearts and minds and so make a space in them for the Lord to appear anew on earth.

As the prophet Isaiah proclaims today, in days to come the Word of the Lord shall go forth from Jerusalem and become the teacher of all nations. This is the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ, the Word whose birth as one of us we will celebrate at Christmas.

But it’s not like this Advent is a time of preparation for a coming of the Lord that’s only off somewhere in the future. The reason we try to pray and quiet ourselves down and prepare for the coming of the Lord is to help us to be aware of the coming of the Lord at every moment. Because God is eternal, the presence of God to us is always new. At each moment of our lives, the presence of God is a perfect Newness that is a holy desire to refresh and renew the world.

That’s why we pray, so that we might soften our hearts and minds and make them sensitive to the presence of God appearing anew at every moment. For God is born anew in each encounter we have with another human being—that other person made in the image of God and recreated according to the image of God’s son. Every time we see God’s creation—the moon and the stars especially at this time of year—we are invited anew to an attitude of wonder and of the praise of God the Creator.

So let us stay awake, as the Gospel recommends today. As Paul says, our salvation is closer than we previously thought. Indeed our salvation is closer than we can even imagine. For God comes to us in each moment, always planting seeds of wonder and prayer in our hearts. Let us quiet ourselves in prayer and preparation, so that we might come to notice and appreciate this ever-new Presence of God.

Let us begin again, for the first time, to prepare for the coming of the Lord.

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