1st Sunday of Advent — Deacon Newton’s Homily

Wow, in the Gospel reading Jesus’ words sound very disturbing. It speaks about death and mayhem. It says beware, don’t let yourself fall into the trap of not being prepared. It stresses to pray for your life, pray that you will be able to stand before Jesus at the final judgement. It all sounds very ominous. But it’s actually a message of hope.

This is a wakeup call. Jesus is telling us that even though God is a loving God and wants us with Him in heaven, heaven is not a guarantee.  You cannot choose which words of Jesus you want to follow and which ones to ignore. His words are not up to your personal interpretation. In 2 Peter 1:20 it states: “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation…” You cannot do whatever you want, no matter what, and expect entry through the heavenly gates.

But we must remember that Jesus gave his life to save us, not condemn us, so how is he trying to help us with this message? He wants us to take an honest look at ourselves and make whatever changes we need to make in our lives, no matter how hard it may be for us, so that we can be with him forever in heaven. We are all sinners. All of us need a second chance to order our lives to the way of Christ.

Today is the First Day of Advent. It’s the start of a new liturgical year. It’s a time to rethink our lives and make liturgical New Year resolutions to improve our spiritual life. We are given the opportunity to start anew, we get that second chance.

Advent helps guide us as it is a season of hope. There is the first coming of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas and then there is the second coming of Jesus at the end of time. Both bring us hope. Jesus came into the world to conquer sin and open the gates of heaven for us. Our hope for salvation came true in his birth, death, and resurrection. Jesus will also come again at the final judgement. We hear about this in the readings during Advent.

It may seem counter intuitive to relate hope to the end of time. But if we live the teachings of Jesus, there is nothing to fear. There is only the joy of heaven. During Advent we are reminded of the opportunity we have to cast off our sinful ways and to follow Jesus. This is the hope we are talking about. It’s not too late for us. But we must make the choice now as we do not know the day nor the hour that Jesus will come.

People during the time of Jesus put much faith in the reading of the signs of nature to help them from planting crops to fishing, etc. They believed if they couldn’t count on these signs for sustaining their life, then truly their world would come to an end. The same applies to us. We may count on our job for income not on reading signs of nature, we may count on the supply chain to bring us food not on hunting and fishing, we may put our faith in friends and family.

But, things are not permanent. They should not be our God. Our faith needs to lie elsewhere. Jesus is telling us to rely on the only thing that is permanent, our relationship with God. When Jesus comes into one’s life, everything must change. He is the stars, the moon, all the planets, our security, and our family. He is what we should anchor our lives too. There must be a reorder of our lives based on Jesus.

A wise old man was asked, “Sir, What is the secret of your success?” He said, “Two words.” “And, Sir, what are they?” “Right decisions.” “But how do you make right decisions?” “Experience.” “And how do you get Experience?” “Wrong decisions.” Sins are wrong decisions, but we can gain wisdom from them and we can make the choice to not commit them again.

This is why Jesus is talking about the end times. It is the breakdown of the old world perceived through the eyes of man, and the ushering in of a new one, one perceived through the eyes of Jesus. There is no time to wait. Don’t fall into that trap. The time for change is now. Let Jesus into every aspect of your life no matter how big or small.

The message today is not about doom and hopelessness, it’s about the great anticipation of Jesus coming into our lives and being the source of our salvation. This is about hope. The feeling of hopelessness comes when we put our faith in worldly things choosing a life without Christ, but hope abounds when we choose a life with Christ. The Gospel states: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great Glory.”

Don’t let mistakes in your life hold you back. Learn from them and start anew. Do you remember the saying?: “It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.” Sinning is like that. It’s not about how many times you sin. God is not keeping count. It’s about being sorry for our sins and honestly trying to follow the way of Christ.

Life is made up of choices. We get to choose our afterlife of heaven or hell. The choices we make in life lead us to Jesus or away from him. If we live our life without Jesus we live eternal life without him. If we live our life with him, we live eternal life with him. It’s our choice.

No one said that it will be easy to make changes in our lives to put all our faith in Jesus. The Gospel makes that clear as it states: “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” One of our greatest weapons against the lure of earthly temptations is prayer.

Pray that you can withstand the upset in your life as you rearrange things around Jesus so that when your time comes you can stand before the son of Man. As frightening as it may seem to actually make these changes in your life, you are not alone for Jesus walks with you. You can start choosing today to make Jesus the center of your life if you have lost focus. Advent reminds us that the coming of Jesus is a time of hope, a time to start anew.

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