Where Do We Go from Here?

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

Readings: 1) Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7 2) 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 3) Mark 13:33-37

This Sunday we begin the Season of Advent. Advent comes from the word adventus which, in Latin, means coming or arriving. It is a perfect time to prepare ourselves to celebrate, cleansed of sin and in a state of grace, the coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. At the beginning of our Catholic Church, when the Apostles were still alive, the season of Advent did not exist. It was only during the second and the third centuries after Christ that Christian communities began to celebrate the great event of the birth of our Savior. Years afterwards, this season was consolidated, between the sixth and the eighth centuries, when the Christian community in Rome began to celebrate it. And from Rome it was extended to the entire Christian world.

The season of Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year of our Church. It can appear somewhat strange to us that during these days in which we are preparing for the birth of Jesus, the Gospel Reading talks to us about the end times. But if we think about it a little we can see that both seasons, Advent as well as Lent, remind us of the need to cleanse our souls of impurities and better our spiritual life. Both seasons remind us of our own end.

From today on, we have four weeks to go until Christmas. It is enough time for us to purify ourselves, making a good confession, freeing ourselves of sin, and promising God and ourselves to be more careful so as not to fall into temptation. The Gospel Reading says to us, “Be watchful! Be alert! Because you do not know when the time will be.” This is a truth so evident that we should keep it in mind. None of us – nobody – knows when the second and final coming of our Divine Redeemer will be. When He comes, in all of His glory and in all of His greatness, we will not have time to get ready. We have to begin now. That is why the Lord recommends that we always be vigilant and prepared - that we await His return with care - taking into account that our lives here on earth will some day be over.

How do we prepare ourselves during these four weeks to better our lives? First, as I told you before: with a good confession. The Lord is waiting for us to pardon all of our sins. He does not care about the number or the gravity. He wants to see our repentance and He forgives all. Priests around the world are ready to hear our confessions and give us God’s pardon. No priest is going to be startled by what is said to Him in confession. The second thing is to keep praying to God, praising Him and obeying Him in all that He asks of us. Scripture tells us very clearly what He wants of us. He ardently desires our firm resolution to better ourselves. Meditating on this should make us better, more responsible, followers of Christ. Our Church, with love and patience, invites us, through the Readings, to begin to cast off impurity, to give up the things that the world offers us that can make us sin. She asks us to separate ourselves from anything or any person that can impede us in our spiritual growth or in following God with dignity.

In the Second Reading, Saint Paul tells the Christians of Corinth, and this also goes for us, that they should recognize the mercy and the patience that the Lord has for them. In spite of having received great gifts, there are Christians who, unfortunately for them, will allow this season of Advent to pass without preparing themselves for their own personal judgment, without getting ready for the Second Coming of Christ in all of His glory. Let us not be like them. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us the strength we need to repent, to set aside sin and come closer to Christ.