+ HOMILY +
First Sunday of Advent
01 December 2002
FR. ROB HANKEE
ST. MALACHY CATHOLIC CHURCH
Scriptual Reference: Isaiah 63: 16b-17, 19b; 64: 2-7; Psalm 80; I Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37

Advent: "Taking It One Day at a Time"

       If you have ever heard an interview with a professional athlete, it might go something like this:

Sports Reporter: Wow! What a finish to a great game. Take us through the last play.

Professional Athlete: First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Without him I could not have made that last play. You know, I'm just glad to have helped the team. I'm just taking it one day at a time, and good Lord willing things will work out.

       Now if this response sounds a bit absurd or even cliched, it's because it is. But there is some wisdom in what the athlete is saying, you know, the part about taking it "one day at a time".

       We have entered one of the more busy times of the year. There is a lot on our plates. After all, there is a house to clean, decorations to put up, holiday plans to make, holiday meals to plan, shopping to do, more decorations to put up, Christmas cards to prepare and mail, still more shopping to do. And this doesn't even take into account our day to day responsibilities. There is a lot to do in the next few weeks before Christmas arrives, and with Thanksgiving coming late this year, there is less time to do it. Our plates our full, and time is short.

       Yet, in today's Gospel, Jesus tells us to "Be Alert"... "Be Watchful!" This warning is a daily reminder of our need to stand on guard, that is to continually keep our eyes focused on Christ. For the past several weeks, Jesus has issued these warnings of staying alert and being prepared: "Keep watch for you know neither the day nor the hour", "be on guard", "be vigilant". Vigilance is, above all, love. It is not a passive waiting, rather it is active. One who stands vigilant waits in hope and prepares for the coming of Christ. A person who is vigilant is a person who loves, keeps the commandments, and looks forward with eagerness to Christ's return. Life is, after all, a period of hope and waiting. To be vigilant is to prepare for an encounter with Christ. In this sense, our eyes become like lamps in that we cast light onto what we see and see it more clearly. It is in being vigilant that we find the interior strength and optimism necessary for fulfilling our family and social responsibilities. "Be Alert"... "Be Watchful!" This is a daily call.

       And so, here we are...the beginning of Advent. A season of preparation and joyful anticipation. A season that prepares us for that great day, that joyful day when God humbled himself to become one of us. A season that reminds us that in all his glory Christ will come again. After all, it is Christ who is the one who has come to strengthen and redeem us. This Advent season is a gift that is to be unwrapped with eager joy each day. This gift sheds light onto that great mystery of the Incarnation. But we cannot see it if we do not take the time to unwrap it, and we cannot see it if we do not take the time to appreciate it.

       And so here we are....25 days before Christmas. 25 days to wait in joyful anticipation. And how we spend these days of preparation and anticipation is up to us. We can choose to get caught up in the hurriedness of the season and allow it to bog us down. That is, we can put more of our focus on the preparation that we forget to see the joy in the anticipation part of the season. And likewise, we can look so far ahead, that we forget to take the time to prepare. There is a lot to do in the next several weeks. The long list of things to do can either be a distraction or help us to enter into the season. For isn't the reason we put up the Christmas decorations, make the holiday travel plans, the holiday meals, the sending out the Christmas cards, the shopping....aren't all the things we do leading up to Christmas done to help us enter into that Christmas spirit and help us to share with others that Christmas Joy. Jesus' call of being watchful and alert is a call to take it "one day at a time". And so, it is with great love that we stand on guard each day as "we await in joyful hope the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ". +



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