“Advent is Here!”, By Brian Flanagan, Fiat Ventures

First Sunday of Advent

Turkey gobbled up? Check. Nap time? Check. Dishes washed? Check. Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s time for Christmas-y things! Let’s take a look at the readings for the First Sunday of Advent! I bet it’s some cute story about Joseph and Mary heading to Bethlehem…wait a second…WHAT?! These readings aren’t Christmas-y at all!

“People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,” Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel this week. That doesn’t exactly sound like a verse that would be on wall décor at the Christmas Tree Shop.

If you’ve never taken a deep dive into Advent, you’re not wrong in your assumption that we’d start hearing about Joseph, Mary, and the coming of Jesus – but that actually comes LATER in Advent believe it or not. The beginning of Advent focuses not so much on the coming of Jesus at Christmas, but rather on the SECOND coming of Jesus at the end of time. Jesus’ message is pretty clear this week – we need to be ready!

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” That’s actually a great verse to keep in mind as the world goes full “Buddy the Elf” the day after Thanksgiving. There are a lot of great things about this time of year, and I may or may not have watched a few Christmas movies already myself, but the important thing here is to not get DISTRACTED. We shouldn’t let our hearts become drowsy as Jesus says, but our hearts should be on fire for Jesus, and even looking to Christmas, the best way to prepare is to sharpen our spiritual life, so we’re ready to encounter him.

Advent is about preparing to encounter Jesus in three ways; when he comes at Christmas (even my 3-year-old knows that!), when he comes at the end of time (or when we meet him at the end of our lives, whichever comes first), and all the ways we encounter him in our daily life. We need to be watchful, alert, and vigilant since these encounters aren’t always on the calendar.

So, this Advent season, take some extra time every day to pray. Maybe read through Mark’s Gospel (it’s the shortest and you can do a chapter a day, even miss a few, and still finish it before Christmas!) Just like for Lent, taking on some extra spiritual practices and giving something up as a penance can be great ways to help us focus, so we’ll be ready when Jesus comes!

You can be Buddy the Elf toward the end of Advent, but at the beginning, think more like Kevin from Home Alone. Be prepared, since as St. Paul says in the first letter to the Thessalonians, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night!”

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