1st Sunday of Advent Year A

     It’s that time of year again where we seem to be running from one place to the other. While it is certainly understandable that we have many things going on over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas which demand our attention, today’s Gospel reminds us that amidst all of the hustle and bustle, we must be watchful and prepare for His coming. This season of Advent is an invitation to pause and recognize His presence in the midst of a busy world. It is an invitation to make preparations in our hearts so that when He comes at Christmas, and again at the end of time, we will recognize Him. Just think for a moment about all the preparations we make for Christmas. Are we making the same preparations for the Lord, who promises to come again at the appropriate time?

     Today, the first Sunday of Advent, is the beginning of a new liturgical year and a new year for our spiritual journey. Just as many of us make New Year’s resolutions for the secular New Year shouldn’t we also make New Year’s resolutions for our spiritual lives? The word advent literally translates to mean “coming toward.” This advent our Lord wants to come toward us and enter anew into our lives at Christmas, but as He comes toward us we must make sure we are prepared to receive Him. Advent is a time for us to open our hearts to the grace of God, to allow Him to mold us into the best version of ourselves.

     Imagine what our community would look like if every person took just one step to deepen their relationship with the Lord this year. Yet to take that next step we need to take the first step of showing up. We know that there are many people in our neighborhoods who have either fallen away from the Catholic Church or don’t belong to a Church. What better time is their than this Advent to invite them to join us here? Every year at Christmas our Church is overflowing with people wanting to greet the newborn Christ, but image how much more effective their encounter with that child in the manger will be if they spend the previous 4 Sundays at Mass preparing to receive Him at Christmas.

     Certainly we can’t control what others will do, but we can control what we will do, so why not take advantage of this new spiritual year and make it a year of growth and then invite someone else to take this journey of Advent with you? Imagine what our already great parish would look like if all of us took just one small step in developing our relationship with the Lord this year, allowing Him to mold us into the best version of ourselves.

     All of us find ourselves in different places, but all of us find ourselves with room for improvement. Some of us struggle to pray throughout the week, why not make a resolution to spend 5 minutes in prayer every morning and again before you go to bed or begin the practice of saying the rosary two or three times a week, or even carve out 30 minutes on Tuesday to come up to church and pray before Jesus exposed in the monstrance. Others of us find ourselves lacking a knowledge of the Bible or the teachings of our faith, wouldn’t a great new year’s resolution be to set a plan to read the Bible in a year or find some other book about our faith to read? Some of you may feel disconnected from the parish community; why not find a parish organization to join this year? Perhaps we have not been to confession in a while; why not make a resolution to go to confession this Advent? Could it be perhaps that some of us are struggling to go to Mass every Sunday? Why not make a resolution to go to Mass every Sunday of Advent? Wherever you find room for improvement in your spiritual life now is the time to work to improve it.

     Today, hearing Jesus call us to be prepared, we have two options. We can either ignore His warning, and drift along in our spiritual lives on the way to destruction, or we can commit to working with God’s grace to become the person He created us to be. The option is ours. Why not make one small resolution this Advent to allow the Lord to continue to shape you?

     Let us not waste this opportunity to grow this Advent as we wait for the Lord to come into our hearts at Christmas and in Glory at the end of time. Now is the time to make one small step towards a deeper relationship with Him. Why not take some time this week to make a resolution to take one small step closer to the Lord and focus on fulfilling that resolution this Advent and into the New Year?

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