TIME TO CHECK YOUR PERSONAL SECURITY SYSTEMS
Within seven days the Liturgy of our Church moves us from the image of Jesus Christ, our King, to, in the words of this Sunday’s Gospel, prepare for the coming of the “thief in the night.” It is quite a literary and theological chasm to span between these two images but both are important to our lives of faith. Today, as I write this, the USA consumer culture acknowledged what our retailers have come to call “Black Friday.” The malls and shops are full of people anxiously expecting to receive bargains for Christmas gifts. Last night, Thanksgiving, I went to sleep as one of the local television stations showed pictures of people sleeping outside the stores of one of our major electronic and appliance stores in the hope of being first in line to grab the few items which really are on sale today. The expectation which drove the waiting is amazing to me.
Advent season, beginning Sunday, is also a time of expectation and waiting, not for a bargain but for a baby. This baby comes in fulfillment of the Scriptures which foretold of a child who would fulfill the hopes and dreams of all humankind, a Messiah, God Himself, in the person of Jesus. It takes us all of about fifteen days to deal with His infancy but it will take us another year to deal with his life, mission, ministry until at its conclusion we acknowledge once again that he is indeed our King, our Lord, our Savior. So the Church would have us prepare for something which we know happened and which needs to happen every year in our life – to acknowledge and live with the Word who became flesh, taking on all our humanity, save our sins, in order to save us from our sins. But Advent is also the season when we most need to reflect that He will indeed come again and we need to be prepared.
I drove by several of our parishes this morning and I saw no lines of people, or even one solitary person, perched outside the door awaiting their opening. I understand this. But I wonder how prepared we are for the coming of the Lord, not just historically as we will recall in four weeks, but spiritually. I live with the realization that “the thief in the night” almost came for me fourteen months ago and I must confess that I was not as prepared then as I am today having lived with that reality now for some time. This is the season to check your spiritual security systems. The sacrament of reconciliation is more readily available at this time with Penance Services in almost all the parishes and additional hours in others. Try preparing by spending a little time in quiet reflection if you can find both the time and the space. Ask the good Lord for help in acquiring those gifts and habits which will best prepare you for the day of reckoning.
There is no lock which can keep the “thief” from entering our lives, rather we leave the door slightly ajar, prepared and awaiting his arrival at any time of His choosing. Not to fear, take comfort. Have a blessed Advent.