1st Sunday of Advent (1 The 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-26) “Hope For The End” PDF Version
Homily for the 1st Sunday of Advent, Year C (2018): 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
A few years ago, some good friends bought me a copy of the book World War Zby Max Brooks. There is a movie version of this novel, but like most movie adaptations of books, it falls short of the original text. The premise of the story is that humanity has been ravaged by a lethal virus that has rendered most of humanity into zombie like beings with incredible strength and agility. The novel consists of many short stories and memoirs of people who have confronted a world turned zombie!
Among my favorite stories in the novel was that of a Russian Orthodox priest who spent his days both caring for the spiritual needs of his flock while also hunting the zombie menace as a sort of exorcist like undead hunter. I will confess to daydreaming of being this zombie slaying padre.
As entertaining as this book was to read, there was a prevailing sense of hopelessness throughout the book, with little respite from tragedy after tragedy falling upon the remnant of humanity that sought to restore order and peace to a world turned apocalypse.
Many have a similar vision of what will come to pass when our world experiences its final apocalypse. For many who believe that it will take place, there is a sense of dread and foreboding, that nothing good can come of the chaos and mayhem, and that if there is a God, then it is proof that He does not really care for us as He lets the world collapse into fire and shadow.
Even our reading of today’s Gospel, the first reading of the Gospel of St Luke that we will hear in this new liturgical year, offers a pretty bleak picture of the future when Christ himself says wars and calamities are surely to come and that He will not use His omnipotence to stop them or whisk His followers away to safety to watch from heaven as the world burns.
Yet as frightening of Christ’s words of signs appearing in the sun, moon and stars, of nations being shock to their foundations and the created world shaken by the powers of the heavens, there is incredible hope present. There is hope because Christ is present.
On the day of our baptism, the theological virtue of hope was infused deep within our souls and person, allowing us to dare to hope in Christ even when days are dark through war, famine, unchecked corruption, inexcusable poverty and grave violations being daily inflicted upon the human family, from the innocent child in the womb being put to death to the vulnerable elder being told they are a burden on society and that their life longer has enough value to merit its continuation.
Hope remains in these manifestations of darkness, because Christ is the light of the world, and from the first moment He entered into our world when He was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, Hope has never left us and will sustain us in whatever will come to pass.
Since I am fairly certain the world will not end in a zombie apocalypse, despite whatever daydreams I might have a being warrior priest, it is imperative for every Christian to ask for the gift of hope to prepare us for the end of all things and the Second Coming of Christ as the Judge of the Living and the Dead.
We testify Sunday after Sunday in the recitation of the Nicene Creed that our judge will return, and that no one will be exempt from His judgment. So how best to prepare for this day of days in a sprit of hope filled expectation for that unknown moment Christ will return into our midst?
I think St Paul offered a pretty excellent answer to this question in his First Letter to the Thessalonians as how to prepare for that day when the Lord Jesus will come among us with all His saints: “Brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how to ought to live and to please God, as, in fact, you are doing, you should do so more and more.” Or more simply, continue to live your life to the fullest, where the fullness of life is found not in the passing pleasures of this life, but living for and in Christ, striving to please Him by loving Him and seeking to do tremendous good.
The start of a new liturgical year this Sunday is the perfect opportunity to reflect on these words of St. Paul and ask life’s most savory question: How well am I striving to live the will of God in my life and how can I daily seek to do so better and better?
Two questions we might ponder are do I actually pray on a daily basis? For 2 minutes? 5 minutes? 30 minutes? I learned recently from my iPhone that I spend on average around 45 minutes every day on some form of social media. If I can’t spend that same amount of time in prayer, even broken up into shorter moments throughout the day, then I know that I am not following God’s will for my life very well and letting the passing things of this world give me false hope in place of the everlasting hope that comes from greater union with Christ and His Church.
How much time to we dedicate to doing good works? Be it volunteering for noble causes, offering alms to charitable organizations, looking to better the lives of my friends, family and coworkers by seeking to serve them and not simply be serve by them, the more we strive to do good works, the more we are following God’s will in our lives and being given hope that when I met Christ at my final judgment, He will judge me favorably as having loved as He loved and washing away a multitude of my sins on account of the alms I offered to the least of His brethren.
Without hope that the Second Coming of Christ and the end of this world is the beginning of something indescribable wonderful, even though it will be proceeded by a time of great suffering, then we may live in a perpetual dread that if today is my last, and that of the whole world, then what is the point of living this Christian life?
But if we live with hope, we can endure all things in Him who strengthens us, and that my friends, is the mindset a person who knows that the Christian life is THE life worth living.