Today begins the Advent season

1st Sunday of Advent, 2007

Readings: Is. 2.1-5; Ps. 122; Rom. 13.11-14; Mt. 24.37-44

Today begins the Advent season. The change in season is demonstrated by the purple color of altar cloths and vestments, the presence of the Advent wreathe the place of the Christmas crib, and the readings whose themes tell us to be hopeful, joyful, and actively waiting. Isaiah says, "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again." The responsorial psalm proclaims, "Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord." You sense that something wonderful is about to happen. St. Paul alerts us, "It is now the hour for you to wake from your sleep. For our salvation is nearer now." And St. Matthew advises us, "At an hour when you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."

For what are we excitedly waiting? The anniversary of the birth of God-made-man, our Savior, our Lord of history, the Prince of Peace, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. Advent provides us a four-week period of prayer, penance, and preparation to ready ourselves, to renew ourselves in our relationship with Jesus.

May I invite you to change one behavior during these four weeks so that you might more adequately prepare your mind, heart, and soul for Jesus. Choose one thing, not ten things. Our time is short, just four weeks; and honestly, our track record is probably not so good in changing anything at all. What one behavior occupies your time and attention which you might better give to prayer, peacefulness, and reflection? For me, I love to turn on the TV for an hour in the evening to watch college football or college basketball. For this Advent, what I hope to do is to give that hour to God by going to my room instead, and while listening quietly to religious music in the background, to pass that hour in reading, reflection and prayer. Say a prayer for me, please, that I might keep this resolution.

One theme of Advent is to watch and wait. Letís try to slow down, to rest more;, to be less busy with our activities in order to give more peaceful and silent time to God. Think about it. Think about changing one behavior to demonstrate your waiting and watching for the anniversary of Godís having come to us as the infant Jesus.

Read other homilies by Father O'Malley