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THE DAYS OF SALVATION HAVE ARRIVED
Fr. Steven Scherrer
Homily of Sunday, 1st Sunday of Advent, November 29, 2009
Jer 33:14-16, Ps 24, 1 Thess 3:12-4:2, Lk 21:25-28,34-36


"...may he establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Thess 3:13).


This is our hope as we begin once again this year the beautiful season of Advent. This is a time of hopeful waiting and preparation for the coming of the Lord into our world, into our lives, and into our hearts. It is a time for meditating on the prophecies of the Old Testament to see the hope of Israel for the Messianic days, in which there would be peace in the whole world, a heavenly peace, not of this world, not of this age. During Advent, we long for the fulfillment of these prophecies. This is why during Advent we prepare with eager expectation for the parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ, for in his coming with power and great glory on the clouds of heaven, accompanied by all his holy ones in great light, all the prophecies will be consummated. Then there will be new heavens and a new earth (Is 65:17), and we will be transformed, with the peace of heaven in our hearts, and the joy of the Lord filling us.


During Advent, we also prepare ourselves for the joyful celebration of the Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In him the prophecies are fulfilled, and in him heavenly peace came down to earth to renew our hearts, making us a new creation, new men, filled with the Holy Spirit and the joy of the Lord. In the birth of Jesus Christ, the salvation prophesied was realized, and the kingdom of God began on earth. Those who believe in him are born again in him and now see and live in the kingdom of God that he brought upon the whole earth. The meditations of Advent and Christmas renew us, and the kingdom of God transforms the world. Christmas and the coming of Jesus Christ into the world is when the dream of peace and salvation seen by the prophets is realized on earth for our transformation and illumination. What the prophets prophesied for the end of the age came in Jesus Christ in the middle of the age instead of only at the end, as the Jews were expecting. No one expected what actually happened-namely, that the kingdom of God, prophesied for the last days, would come now in Jesus, the Messiah, in the middle of history. Nonetheless, this is what actually happened. The fulfillment of prophecy came on earth in the birth of Jesus Christ, and this fulfillment is with us still, renewing us and gladdening our hearts with the joy of the Lord.


During Advent, we enter into the beautiful mystery of the fulfillment of prophecy in Christ, and we prepare ourselves for its final consummation in manifest glory on the last day with the parousia of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his holy ones in great light. We prepare ourselves now for his glorious parousia by believing in Christ as our Lord and Savior and by being born again in him and living in his kingdom, giving glory to God on high, and on earth living in his peace with our neighbor.


And this peace is not our own but the gift that Jesus brought to earth at his birth when the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Lk 2:14 KJV).


St. Paul's wish for us today is that God "may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Thess 3:13). We are to be blameless and prepared for that great day of final salvation. We are drawing ever nearer to that day. It is therefore now time for us "to wake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed" (Rom 13:11). We should be more prepared now than when we began to believe. We should be in a continual state of preparation, growth, and sanctification. "...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" (Rom 13:12). We are to cleanse our life. "...let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in gluttony ... But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Rom 13:13-14).


Jesus tells us the same thing today. "...take heed to yourselves," he says, "lest your hearts be weighed down with gluttony and drunkenness and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man" (Lk 21:34-36).


If we did this, we would be in a constant state of preparation and vigilance. And this is precisely what we are supposed to do-be constantly preparing ourselves for that final hour by living now in the fulfillment of prophecy in Jesus Christ. We are now in the final days. We are living in the Messianic times, the times of the fulfillment of prophecy. In Jesus Christ we have heavenly peace, and we should give glory to God in the highest, and on earth live in Christ's peace with our neighbor.


To see a longer version of this important sermon, click on SEASONAL WRITINGS and then click on Advent 2009. 

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