Sunday, Nov. 27th 2016

Sunday Reflection: First Sunday of Advent

“So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

1st Sunday of Advent
1st Reading: Isaiah 2: 1-5
2nd Reading: Romans 13: 11-14
Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44

This Sunday is the first week of Advent. Perhaps at your parish the advent wreath is going up. The first violet candle is lit indicating that our time of preparing for the King is at hand. The style of hymns has changed, and everyone has a hint of excitement as a particularly popular holiday approaches. Advent has this unique trait of bringing out our feelings of nostalgia. We remember the traditions we grew up with, we watch certain shows and movies, we listen to certain songs, and we put up certain decorations. All this invoking in us nostalgic feelings of peace and excitement. However, it’s easy in all this excitement, especially with Christmas music playing in stores and Christmas decorations everywhere we go, to forget about the quiet preparation of Advent.

The Christmas tree goes up soon after Thanksgiving, Jingle Bells and White Christmas start playing, snowflakes are hanging from ceilings, and reindeer are prancing all before we even get to the month of December. This has all happened ever since I was a little boy, and I’ve heard and seen people preach on the importance of Advent for just as long. What I never realized growing up is that Christ speaks a similar message. In this Sunday’s gospel Christ shares with his disciples that if we’re not careful in our celebration, then we may miss what we’re celebrating. If we get lost in the party, we may miss the host coming to greet us, and our celebration would be for nothing. Our celebration would be empty; void of meaning. It can be a quite frightening message. Yet, I’m not saying that Christmas lights and trees are bad to put out right after Thanksgiving (maybe like my family it’s the only opportunity you have before the holiday gets here). Christ gives us this message not to scare us, for John tells us in his first letter that, “God is love,” and, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4: 16, 18).

So, we know that Christ, who is perfect love, does not want us to fear, but wants us to rejoice with awareness. He wants us not to get lost in the celebration, but to celebrate that we have been found in him. I encourage us then, despite all the decorations, gingerbread houses, and Frosty the Snowman reruns, to let the excitement grow. Find quiet and peaceful moments, perhaps in the intimacy of the closest chapel, to speak with God and be reminded that the time of celebration is at hand, and not yet at hand. Christ, Love and Fulfillment, is here now and still has not yet come again. We are both in a state of rejoicing and preparation. I encourage us this Advent season, amidst the jingles and the bright shining lights, to find quiet solitude where we can allow the anticipatory excitement to grow and we can prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of our King of kings, Jesus Christ!

Written by Chad Thurman, senior from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City

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