Be watchful! Be alert! - tip the balance away from sin toward Jesus

Homily for the First Sunday of Advent Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Is someone coming to visit you this Christmas? Will you have a guest this Christmas? Are you going to visit someone this Christmas? There is One who wants to spend time with you this Christmas and longs for you to spend time with him, the Lord Jesus. Make this the best Christmas you have ever had by opening your heart and home to Jesus. Let Jesus come to visit your heart and home this Christmas. You prepare for the visit of a guest and get a room ready. Advent is a special time of grace given to us to prepare for the visit of Jesus to your heart and home.

In the Gospel today Jesus says,

Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come…What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ (Mark 13:33,37)

Jesus is predicting the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. His words came true in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed the temple but the words of Jesus have value for us today also. Why are we asked today to be watchful and alert? We will meet Jesus as Judge when we die or at his Second Coming in glory, whichever comes first, so we are really being asked to prepare our souls for God because we do not know when we will be called from this life. This is the message of the first half of Advent every year: prepare your soul for God. When we prepare our souls for God we will have the best visit from Jesus this Christmas.

How do we prepare our souls for God? How do we watch and be alert? With the help of the first reading today we can look at preparing our souls for God this way. In the first reading we heard,

We have all withered like leaves, and our guilt carries us away like the wind (Isa 64:5)

The more sin we have in our lives the less of Jesus we have in our lives. It is like a balance or scales. If you want to be watchful and alert, prepare your soul for God by tipping the balance or scales towards Jesus and away from sin. Of course the reason we commit sin is because it gives us a temporary pleasure and we want instant gratification instead of using our brains and seeing how foolish sin is, but afterwards we are left to deal with our guilt. For a moment we get lost admiring the gifts God gives us instead of admiring God the giver of the gifts. There is a grace offered to us in Advent to get our priorities right in our lives and then we can say with the prophet in our first reading,

No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him (Isa 64:3)

Tipping and moving the balance of our life’s scales away from sin and guilt towards Jesus is the best way to be watchful and alert and is the best way to prepare our hearts and homes for Jesus at Christmas. All the Christmas shopping is a distraction from what Christmas is really all about, Jesus. There is really only one gift at Christmas, Jesus. Let us not be deceived by the foolishness of this time. Don’t forget Jesus. There is really only one gift at Christmas, Jesus. To receive this priceless gift we tip the balance of our life’s scales away from sin and guilt towards Jesus. That is why receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of watching and preparing our hearts during Advent. Let us not postpone receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Remember the words of Jesus in the Gospel,

Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ (Mark 13:35-37)

Being ready for God is too important to postpone, God comes first and deserves our best. What happens if the lord of the house comes and we are not ready? We have just spent a month praying for the souls in Purgatory. (See homilies for Nov 2nd - All Souls) They were those who were not ready when the lord of the house came for them. Let us not postpone receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Being ready for God is too important to postpone, God comes first and deserves our best. There is really only one gift at Christmas, Jesus.

Is someone coming to visit you this Christmas? Will you have a guest this Christmas? Are you going to visit someone this Christmas? There is One who wants to spend time with you this Christmas and longs for you to spend time with him, the Lord Jesus. Make this the best Christmas you have ever had by opening your heart and home to Jesus. Let Jesus come to visit your heart and home this Christmas. There is really only one gift at Christmas, Jesus. As we prepare our hearts we can remember that the Lord has richly blessed us with so many spiritual blessings. I conclude with the words of Paul to the Corinthians in our second reading,

I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way…so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 1 4-5,7)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered in a parish in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

More homilies for the First Sunday of Advent Year B

Advent - Waiting in Patient Hope for God

Related Homilies: God is Offering You a Grace this Advent - Don’t miss out on it!

Advent - Preparing our hearts for the the Second Coming of Jesus