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First Sunday of Advent (A)

Scriptural Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4a, 4b-5, 6-7, 8-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44

My dear encountered couples:

The new year of the Church begins. Today is the beginning of the liturgical year of the worship cycle of the Church. We begin once again on this first Sunday of Advent to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas, the birthday of Jesus. We should be concerned and renew our commitment to live lives as befits loving Christians. Prepare yourself for the coming of the Son of God.

In the gospel reading Jesus tells us that in Noah's time, people were too busy with their everyday lives, with their eating and drinking to pay any attention to what Noah was telling them by his tireless efforts with the ark. “They were totally unconcerned until the flood came and destroyed them. So will it be at the end of the world when the Son of Man comes in all his glory. Jesus tells us to be always prepared. The Son of Man is coming at the time you least expect.”

Some things in the gospels are put in very frightening ways. It is almost like watch out or the boogey man will get you. Shape up before God catches you messing around, not doing what you're supposed to do, or he will come and fix your wagon.

I am not really taking the warnings of Jesus lightly, and I hope you don't either. But I can never forget the many kindnesses of Jesus and his acts of love and forgiveness toward the people who came into his life on earth. I do not believe that God ever tries to catch us off guard and punish us. For God in so many ways has gone out of his way to help us obtain the happiness he wants us to share with him. And he continues to do so.

God does not wish to scare us into doing what is best for ourselves, but he is trying to warn us of the consequences of not taking life seriously enough. He wants us to enjoy life and be happy. What father would not want that for his children? But he also wants us to grow and mature to the limits of our capabilities. Let us look at what happens in so many lives today and maybe we can understand what Jesus is trying to warn us of without all the scare tactics involved that depict God as the angry judge.

The drug situation. Many people are into the use of drugs. In the United States at present there is a tremendous push by many to eradicate as much as possible the availability of drugs. Why? Because the misuse of drugs is evil for the individual, for society, for the country. The person becomes a slave to the drug. That makes it evil for the individual.

Drugs are expensive. The person using them needs money to make the purchases. When the drug addict has no money, he steals it by muggings, holdups, killings. This is the evil effect of drugs on society. When many people are addicted, especially those with intellectual and physical abilities that can no longer function for the good of others, the entire country is affected.

Likewise, believe it or not, many sins can become addictive. Paul in today's second reading tells us to “wake from sleep, put off deeds of darkness. Let us live honorably, not in carousing. drunkenness, sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy.” Living in the habit of sin without being concerned and trying to do something about it becomes addictive. Our minds and wills are dulled. We do not think as we should. Our viewpoints are warped. We live as if asleep.

Therefore when it comes our time to die, we will enter eternity as we have become. A drug addict who dies while still an addict enters eternity an addict at least in mind if not in body. A person addicted to living in sin who dies without concern for his condition and without effort towards change will enter eternity also addicted in mind. And most likely will choose to stay in that condition for all eternity.

Jesus will appear. The Father will offer everlasting happiness. The Holy Spirit will try to move the person to desire freedom from sin addiction. But will that person be able psychologically to even be concerned about desiring to be different? We hope so - but maybe he will not. Hell is chosen addiction to evil, the rejection of good. When a person chooses evil-living regularly in this world, rejecting the truly good, why would he change after death. For his free will has most likely become enslaved to that which sin offers.

Jesus tells you, along with Paul, to wake up, look at yourself. Are you really concerned that you are becoming a better person and a better Christian? Are you doing anything practical about it? Or are you satisfied with the status quo, leave-me- alone-don't-try-to-change-me attitude? You will die! And it will probably be when you least expect it.

In the words of Jesus, “If the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming he would keep a watchful eye and not allow his house to be broken into. You must be prepared in the same way.” The thief Jesus speaks of is sin. If you let it break into the house of your mind and body and be accepted there as a permanent resident, you will not be prepared when the Son of Man comes at the time of your death.

This season of Advent should be a period of preparation. Use these weeks to prepare yourself for the birthday of the Christ who comes into the world to save you from addiction and slavery to sin and to give you all his love. Make this Christmas a truly merry one for yourself. See to it that by then you will have grown much more in the likeness of Jesus Christ.


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