daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 1st Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011
Isa. 63:16-17. 19, 64:2-7, Ps. 79, 1 Cor. 1:3-9, Mark 13:33-37

"The testimony to Christ was confirmed among you-so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:6-8).

Today we begin the beautiful season of Advent, when we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ in all his glory on the clouds of heaven, when he will come with all his holy ones in great light. We focus on this coming during this season. It is a time of holy longing for the grace of God in our life. We long to be freed from sin, purified in heart and mind, and filled with light for the coming of the Lord. We long for his kingdom of peace over all the earth. We want to be more and more cleansed of sin and of all that stains us, to be "guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 1:8). Advent is a time of grace and spiritual preparation. We "cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Rom. 13:12). Christ truly comes to us during this beautiful season of joyful expectation and eager preparation.

Advent is also the time when we read the prophecies about the coming of Christ, for these prophecies help us to prepare ourselves for his coming and to long for his coming into our heart and mind to transform us into a truly new creation, making us new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). We long for the fuller coming of the kingdom of God during Advent, the coming of grace into us to make us resplendent in God's eyes.

During Advent we also prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Christ the Lord in Bethlehem, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger, announced and praised by angels, and visited and adored by shepherds. The celebration of the coming of Christ the Lord in his birth helps us to celebrate his coming to us in grace, cleansing our hearts so that he might dwell in them in peace. The celebration of his coming in Bethlehem also helps us to prepare ourselves for his coming in glory on the last day, so that we might be blameless in his sight when he comes. It helps us to be vigilant and repentant for our sins so that we might be worthy to welcome him in his final coming in glory. It is important that during Advent Christ "establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Thess. 3:13).

Now, then, is the time to awake from sleep, for the time of our salvation is near. We should be in a state of preparation and leave all that is unworthy of a Christian life so that we will be ready when Christ comes again in his glory with all his holy ones. "It is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Rom. 13:11-14).

This means a new way of living in this world, no longer according to the desires of the flesh, but as sons of light (1 Thess. 5:5), as new creatures in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), so that when he comes he may find us prepared and longing for his coming. We have to live for him with all our heart. "Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:13). "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come" (Mark 13:33). This is how we should live as Christians, always on guard against the attacks of the devil and the desires of the flesh, mortifying them to live worthily the call to perfection that God has given us in Jesus Christ.

"On that day sweet wine will flow from the mountains, milk and honey from the hills, alleluia" (antiphon, lauds). This is the sweetness of God's grace in our hearts, which God gives us in his Son Jesus Christ. We want to grow more in this grace. Therefore during Advent we long for and prepare ourselves for this sweet wine, for this milk and honey. God will fill us with his sweetness, remaking us in the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). "Today for us true peace comes down from heaven. Today throughout the world the heavens drip down honey. Today a day of new redemption has dawned for us, of reparation for ancient sin, of eternal happiness" (response, Christmas, old office). In the celebration of Christmas this sweetness comes to us from heaven, especially in the Christmas Mass, when Christ present among us illuminates us with his brightness and fills us with his splendor. During Advent we long for this glory and prepare ourselves for this splendor.

"Know that the Lord is coming and with him all his saints; that day will dawn with a wonderful light, alleluia" (antiphon, first vespers). Let us live now in the splendor of this light by living in his grace, forgiven for all our sins. "See the Lord coming from afar; his splendor fills the earth" (mag. antiphon, first vespers). This splendor illuminates us now and fills our heart with happiness. We always want to live in this divine love, given to us by the coming of God's Son, laid for us in a manger in Bethlehem and present in our body and heart in the Eucharist.

We now move toward this light that already shines in our hearts. We move in its direction to be more and more illuminated, more and more resplendent in God's eyes, more and more filled with grace, with the kingdom of God more and more present in us, in our heart. This is the meaning of Advent.


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