1st Sunday of Advent
December 3, 2017
“Be aware 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….Be vigilant at all times and pray that you will have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.”
Our lives on earth are brief, even for those of us who live a long time. God gives each soul a precious window of life in which to grow in faith and good works by the choices we make in life. The beginning of Advent is a wonderful opportunity to stop for a moment and ask God to show us how our lives look in the light of eternity. To take up this Sunday’s gospel quoted above, when the day comes and I must stand before the Son of Man on the first day of my eternity, will I stand before him with confidence? What does this mean?
These four weeks prior to Christmas can be extremely busy ones. Rather than being a good preparation for Christmas, God can be crowded out by all that we have to do! Others may find it a particularly lonely time. Still others will find themselves overindulging in food and drink and – dare I say it – shopping. But what does Christ want from us? What is my life really about? What is the best personal way to prepare for Christmas and my own eternity with the Lord (which is closer than we think)?
First, do I really know my strength and weaknesses, my virtues and sins? Often, they are hiding in plain sight – everyone knows us better than we know ourselves! Have I examined my life? Have I made a good confession? Going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the best spiritual investments you can make for Advent.
Second, is my life out of balance somehow? Is there something, good in itself, that I may indulge in too much? Can I give up some time on my tablet, computer, phone or TV and offer this to God? Try putting your internet time on a timer, and promise yourself to stop when the allotted time is up. Otherwise the hours can go by, and we haven’t even begun to pray!
Third, do I make time for prayer and scripture? Prayer is when I talk to God; Scripture is when he talks to me. If the Lord and you are not conversing regularly, your relationship is beginning to be estranged.
Fourth, what do I do for others? How kind am I? Do I really listen when people speak to me? Am I committed to being a force for peace and goodness in the lives of others? Acquiring possessions like these will truly give us confidence before God.