Today is the First Sunday of Advent, and even though I promised in my last post to continue my thoughts on the mess in Ferguson, I am going to put that off in favor of a reflection. After all it is Sunday, and Advent is one of the two most important seasons in the Liturgical calender.

Advent is when we get ready for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. In these times I would propose that many people have forgotten the real reason for Christmas, the reason we celebrate it. Advent is a good time for us to think of this. Instead it has become a time for sales and black Fridays, small business Saturdays and Cyber Mondays. It is about which stores have the best deals on things we might want but don’t really need, things which marketers have convinced us we cannot live without. We deck the halls, the malls, the streets and our homes with plastic Santa Clauses, “Holiday Trees”, blinking lights and music about reindeer with red noses and drunk grandmothers. Maybe there might be the odd manger in a public place, or in one’s home, but there aren’t many.

Advent however is about more than just the birth of Jesus, it is about Christs’ Second Coming, when He will come to save us, the day when the final judgement will be made and He will decide where we will spend eternity. The secular definition of the word advent is the “coming into being or use” almost like a beginning or preparation. We should be preparing for this Second Coming.

We don’t know when this will be, even though many have claimed they know the date, they have all come and gone and we are still here. Jesus told us we “will not know the day or the hour” but we need to look for various signs. Many believe these signs are already here, but whether or not they are, we should be prepared. Today’s Gospel reading tells us to be watchful, to be prepared, to not be sleeping. when the Lord returns.

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” (Mk 13:33-37)

Preparing doesn’t mean getting the best deal on a new notebook computer, although if you find one you could certainly send it to me. It means to be virtuous and help others, to live the way Christ teaches us.

It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. – Romans 13:11-12

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