A Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

“Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” Jesus doesn’t tell us when he will come again; but he does tell us all we need to know. First, he leaves no doubt in our minds that he will in fact return–this isn’t a question we have to debate. And secondly, he tells us what we need to do to be ready: stay awake! As long as we don’t doze off while we’re waiting, everything will be all right.

So our task is a relatively simple one. We are called to be on the lookout. We are supposed to be ready for the Lord when he appears. This is a straightforward instruction to be sure. But it does contain an inherent challenge: it’s often much easier to hit the snooze button than to get up and at ’em. It’s our task, however, to make sure we don’t give in to the temptation to fall back asleep.

This is what the season of Advent helps us to do. It’s like the Church’s alarm clock, ringing with persistence in our ears: Wake up! Throw off the covers of apathy and distraction! Jesus is coming! Get up and get your house in order before he arrives!

What exactly this means will be different for all of us–the particular behaviors we need to change, the specific virtues we need to develop–all of this is unique to each individual. But our common goal is the same–to clean house in our hearts and make ourselves ready to welcome the Lord. Yes, his return at the end of time will be a momentous event, but even if we never experience it during our lifetime, Jesus still wants to come to us here and now, to dwell in our hearts through the presence of his Spirit. This Advent, let’s be ready to welcome the Lord every minute of every day.

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