Extraordinary Form Homily, December 2nd, 2012, 1st Sunday of Advent
Not a Christmas Carol
Luke 21: 25-33 “People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
Because the Catholic Church, which invented Christmas, also invented Advent. And Advent is a preparation not so much for Christmas Day, but for the great Day of the Lord’s Second Coming. He came once as a little babe. He will come again upon the clouds in power and glory to judge the nations. And every eye shall behold him, yea, even them that thrust him through.
Which ought we to do during Advent? Prepare for Christmas parties that recall his First Coming, or prepare as He told us for His Second Coming? Only those who don’t believe in his First Coming would neglect to prepare for his Second Coming. And so we should prepare for both, but more seriously for the Second Coming. Holy Mother Church has designed Advent in two stages. Stage One, until December 16, trains our thoughts on Christ’s Second Coming. Stage Two, from December 17-24, prepares us to celebrate with appropriate joy Christ’s First Coming, so that we might be ready for the Second.
A Penitential Season
Romans 13:11-14 “Brothers: you know it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now … Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Why does Jesus warn us about the end of the world in the first place? To frighten us? No, to protect us from the emptiness those feel who put their hope in what can never afford lasting joy. Jesus states unequivocally that Heaven and earth will pass away. Everything one can buy at a store, every earthly love and friendship, even our own bodies, will pass away. It will blow away as a bit of dust in the wind. The earth itself, and the sun, the entire galaxy and known universe, will eventually pass away. Only Christ and his Word will not pass away. The Church seeks to spare us the bitter pain of disappointment. Yes, this life is good, but it is not a lasting good. We all need a lasting good, a joy that nobody can take from us. If we keep hoping in things that continue to fail us, we end up forging a prison of disappointment and bitterness around our earthly lives. Advent frees us from that prison by fixing our hope on the only one who will never fail us.
Year of Faith
We enter Advent in this Year of Faith. During the last Year of Faith in 1967, the Church wrote a creed, the Credo of the People of God. I end with a line from that credo: “Christ ascended into heaven whence he will come again to judge the living and the dead, each according to his own merits. Those who have responded to the love and compassion of God will go into eternal life. Those who have refused them to the end will be consigned to the fire that is never extinguished.”
Brothers and sisters, our lives are a long Advent, a preparation for the Coming of Christ. He will come for us either on the day of our death, or on the last day of human history. Everything we do in this brief time on earth should be directed toward attaining eternal life, and avoiding that fire that is never extinguished. In every Advent, we turn to Our Lady. She holds out the baby Jesus to us. He grasps us in his tiny hands, and leads us unfailingly into eternal joy.