First Sunday of Advent
Father Edward McIlmail, LC
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of the night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you must also be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I know by faith that you are here and listening to me. I count on your goodness and friendship to sustain me now throughout this meditation and this preparation time of Advent for your arrival at Christmas. I love you for coming among us as a man, to show us the way to heaven.
Petition: Lord Jesus, grant that I learn to make the most of my time on earth.
- Before the Flood: God had seen widespread corruption in the world and decided to sweep away much of humanity. Noah, however, found favor with God and received divine warning of an impending disaster. He thus set about to build the ark; a project that must have struck his neighboring desert-dwellers as strange. The flood caught the people by surprise; only Noah and his family were prepared. So it is with the world. The unexpected can take us by surprise. But for those who stay close to God and listen to him, even the most unexpected events can be accepted with serenity. Can I say the same about events in my life? Do I truly trust in God’s providence day by day?
- One Taken, One Left: Death can come like a thief in the night. On an unexpected day, a man in the field is taken away; his companion remains. Death can snatch away any one of us in a blink of an eye. Christ told his listeners that he came into the world “so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). But he never told us how long our lives would be. This thought however, shouldn’t depress us. Rather, it should prompt us to be ever alert. There is no time like the present to convert and turn our lives to God. More than a few souls have thought to put off conversion “until tomorrow” — a day that never arrived. Our Lord wants us to live the present well, and to do good in the here-and-now. Our life is but a collection of “nows”; each “now” is a piece of a bigger picture, like a mosaic. How am I living the present? Am I waiting “until tomorrow” to change my ways? Do I understand how risky that delay could be?
- Stay Awake! Our Lord doesn’t sugarcoat his advice. He knows that death awaits each of us and that we tend to want to ignore that reality. “Whistling past the graveyard” is a not uncommon attitude among those who live as if their lives were endless. But, alas, we are all pilgrims passing through this world on the way to eternity. The best way to live each day is to live it as if it were our last day. That means having a serious prayer life and acting with a deep spirit of charity. If we knew that today was our last day, how would we live it?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, your birth in Bethlehem changed the course of the world — and the course of my life. I want to prepare myself well this Advent for your arrival at Christmas, so that I can offer you a fitting birthday gift. Help me to live each day to the full in order to grow in holiness and to keep my gaze fixed on eternity.
Resolution: I will make a program that will help me to live Advent better. This could include more prayer or even one or two weekday Masses.