First Sunday of Advent (Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37) “Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, Supplication” PDF Version
Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B (2017): Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; 1 Cor 1:3-9; Mk 13:33-37
If you have been to the mall since after Halloween, you will have discovered that Christmas trees, holiday music, artificial wreathes, and the long line to visit Santa have been present for a number of weeks. Christmas, or more commonly known now the holiday season, has been celebrated for quite sometime and you may be at a point where if you hear another holiday tune playing in Starbucks as you wait for your latte, that the temptation to shot out the speakers may be increasingly on the rise!
Whether we like it or not, the season of Advent has by in large disappeared from our culture, minus the purchase of novelty items like the Lego Advent Calendar and even a scotch Advent calendar that will provide you with a nip of whiskey everyday before the birth of our Saviour! We can complain all we want about the secularization of Christmas and the disappearance of Advent in our times, but complaining will just leave us more depressed and hopeless in an Advent season that is meant to be marked by both expectation and hope for the birth of our Saviour at Christmas and His return in triumphant glory at the end of time.
In place of complaining about the ongoing decay and secularization of our once Christian culture, may I suggest we look at these next 4 weeks of Advent as an opportunity to renew our lives of prayer. It is hopeful that a reinvigorated spirit of prayer in our personal and family lives can help us rise above the distractions that pull us away from preparing our hearts for the joy of Christmas and to ponder the day of days when Jesus Christ will return and drown out the evil of this world in the love that pours forth from His pierced side.
There is a helpful acronym that I like to teach people as a way to remind us that there are 4 types of prayer that we should be looking to offer to God. The acronym is ACTS, with each letter standing for one type of prayer.
For A, we have Adoration. The word adoration is composed to two Latin words, that combined could be loosely translated as “to bring towards one’s face or mouth.” Adoration is then a face to face encounter with God, or for those who are more daring, to offer God a kiss!
To adore God is to seek to behold His face. The Prophet Isaiah recounted today that during his time, God had hidden His face from His people on account of their sins and rebellion. Yet Isaiah also knew that God was His Father and so he appealed that God once again reveal His face and show His people that He was their deliverer and Saviour.
It was only in the Birth of Jesus Christ that we eagerly await in 4 weeks time that God would definitively reveal the face of the Living God. To see Jesus is to see the Father and know His love! Even though Jesus now reigns in heaven and has once again hidden His divine countenance, He nonetheless allows us to behold His glory whenever we seek to adore Him in prayer and see his Face that is hidden behind a veil.
Among the most powerful ways we can adore the Face of Jesus Christ is to spend time with Him in Eucharistic Adoration. It is here we can have that face to face encounter with God. Yes His face is hidden beneath the appearance of bread, but once we look through the appearance we know in faith that Christ is present, very much like the Divine Infant that we will meet on Christmas Eve, silent and peacefully allowing us to speak to Him about whatever is on our heart.
Every Tuesday evening from 7:30-8:30pm we have Eucharistic Adoration in our parish at St. Bernard’s Church. Please consider joining us this Advent to adore our Lord, to speak to Him face to face and even to offer Him a kiss in the prayer you will offer to His Eucharistic Glory.
Continuing with our acronym ACTS, after A for adoration, we have C for Contrition. Contrition is that all important prayer of being able to tell God in that we are sorry for our sins and that we will look for ways to avoid these sins in the future and to make reparation for any damage our sins have incurred. Contrition is what allows us to realize that we sinners, forever in need of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
Contrition is what also keeps our hearts vigilant and ready as St Paul tells us today to be “found blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”, that is, that when Jesus returns in glory, we will have the confidence that when we meet Him, we will be free of the bonds of sin, for we sought His forgiveness and did not neglect to be reconciled to Him before it was too late!
The Gospel for this First Sunday of Advent implores us to be alert and awake for this day of days, and our willingness to offer God prayers of contrition will assure that we do not succumb to a spiritual drowsiness that will cause us to be caught unprepared for the Lord’s Second Coming.
In particular, Advent is a beautiful time to offer that prayer of contrition known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In addition to all the regular confession times in our parish, every Catholic parish in the city of Calgary will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Wednesday evenings during Advent starting at 7:30pm. In light of today’s gospel, what better way to prepare for Jesus’ return in Glory than for our souls to be wiped clean of any and all sins that could prevent us from entering His kingdom of glory?!
After prayers of Adoration and Contrition, we come to T in our acronym ACTS. T stands for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving or gratitude is an essential prayer for any Christian. From thanking God that my coffee tasted wonderful this morning to praising Him for being delivered from a serious illness, a day should not pass by that we neglect offer some word or gesture of thanksgiving for all that God has and will do for us.
Like the Magi who travelled to adore the new born Christ, we too in these Advent days can think of ourselves on a spiritual journey to Bethlehem, preparing ourselves to not only adore our newborn King, but also to bring Him a gift. A heart filled with thanksgiving and gratitude will be a most fitting gift for the King of Kings! Thus may we spend Advent taking more time in our prayer to count the blessings that keep falling into our laps and to not hesitate to renew our gratitude to God for all that He does for us.
Finally, our acronym ACTS will conclude with the letter S which stands for supplication. A prayer of supplication is when we make a request of God, either for ourselves or for others. Like the Prayer of the Faithful that we offer at every Sunday Mass, prayers of supplication remind us that we are to ask many things of our Heavenly Father and that we are to be committed to praying for the needs and well being of others. A life of prayer cannot simply be focused on oneself!
We must also spend time in prayer acting as an intercessor for others, petitioning God to care for the sick, the poor, the abandoned and all those most in need of His mercy. With so many people in need, in both our families, local communities and aboard, this Advent season compels us to take time to pray for others.
Such prayer is very pleasing to Our Lord and again provides a fitting gift for the Christ Child. Such prayers can also be what touches the hearts of those who have drifted far from God, speaking to their inner most conscience to help them again turn back to God and prepare them to meet Christ when He returns in glory.
Let us then make this Advent a time of prayer, of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication. Such prayer will help us be well prepared for Christmas and alert and awake for the end of all things.