Be Awake in Advent: Are You Ready for the Coming of the Lord?
User’s Guide to the First Sunday of Advent
The first weeks of Advent focus more on the Lord’s second coming in glory than on his first coming at Bethlehem. The Gospel clearly states that we must always be prepared, for at an hour we do not expect, the Son of Man will come. “Ready” is the key word. But how should we be ready?
The second reading from today’s Mass gives us a basic recipe for readiness.
1. Wake up. The text says, “… you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. … Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day. ...” We need to be morally awake and responsible for our actions. We cannot and must not engage in dreamy thinking that is not rooted in reality or is fundamentally absurd in its premises. We need to be alert, rooted in what is real and what is revealed.
2. Clean up. The text says, “… not in orgies … not in promiscuity and lust … and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” Notice the emphasis in this passage on sexuality. This is because the pagan world at the time of Paul was sexually confused and immature. Promiscuity, fornication, homosexual activity, divorce, abortion and infanticide were all rampant. Sound familiar?
In saying that we should “make no provision for the desires of the flesh,” the text indicates we should avoid the near occasion of sin.
3. Sober up. The text says, “… not in drunkenness …” To be sober is to have a clear mind that is capable of making sound judgments. So much of our battle to be ready to meet God comes down to our mind. There are many fuzzy-headed, lame-brained, crazy and just plain wrongful notions today that amount to a lack of sobriety. Much of what we as a society think comes from a drunken and confused world. Square everything you think with God’s word and Church teachings.
4. Lighten up. The text says, “… not in rivalry and jealousy …” An awful lot of our sins revolve around our sensitive egos. Paul warns elsewhere of other things that flow from this source: “enmity, strife, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions and envy” (Galatians 5:20). These sorts of things have to go.
We need to be more forgiving if we expect to be forgiven. We also need to be less stingy, more generous to the poor, and less prone to the kind of anger that comes from being thin-skinned or from a lack of humility.
5. Dress up. The text says, “… put on the Lord Jesus Christ …” The Book of Revelation speaks of the long white robe that is given to each of the saints to wear as the righteous deeds of all holy souls. Hence, righteousness is given to us like a precious wedding garment. In the baptismal ritual, the newly baptized are clothed in white and told that their garments represent their dignity, which they are to bring unstained to the judgment seat of Christ. So dress up, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ.