Today, we begin the first Sunday of Advent, a time we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas, who as Isaiah tells us, shall be established as the highest mountain and all the nations shall stream toward it.
In Advent, as St. Cyril of Jerusalem says, “we do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming (at Christmas) was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom”. Jesus reminds us about this second coming in the Gospel.
How are we to prepare in this Advent for both comings of the Lord at Christmas and at the end of our lives? St. Paul tells us in the second reading to “throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light”. Today, we are surrounded by a lot of darkness owing to our sinful actions both as individuals and as a society.
There is so much evil everywhere around us. Just pause for one moment and think about the frequent mass shootings, abortions happening in our clinics every second, family divisions among siblings, hatred among couples leading to countless divorces, terrible child abuse by the clergy, lies and deceit by our politicians, persecutions against the people of faith, and so on and so forth.
As someone rightly noted, the darkness in our society has changed many of our today’s vocabularies; think for example, the word 911 which was a call for help now reminds us about the horrible terrorist attack as nine eleven. The word “freedom of choice”, which should be the celebration of God’s gift of freedom, is now a code word for abortion; the word fingerprinting that is used for identity now reminds us of child abuse and so on.
Dearest brothers and sisters, it is in this darkness that envelops our lives that the coming light of Christ wants to dispel. As Children of God, darkness and sin should have nothing to do with us. We are created in the image and likeness of God and we were also imprinted with Christ at our baptism. Can we allow that coming light of Christ to shine again in our hearts and, through us, upon our world? As St. Paul urges us, let us conduct ourselves in the right way, casting away all the desires of the flesh that is contrary to the Spirit of God.