My homily for the First Sunday of Advent, delivered at Holy Redeemer, New Bremen, Ohio. On a side note, it was good to put faces to names, specifically Jamie S. and Wife, Mother, and so much more.
As we begin the Church year once again on this First Sunday of Advent, we naturally start at the end. Instead of looking at the beginning of Creation in the Garden of Eden, we look first to the end of time and Christ’s return in glory. Certainly, it does seem an odd place to start a ‘New Year,’ but what the Church wants to do in starting in such a way is to give us a focus for our lives by focusing on what is of most importance to the Church. This focus on the End is a call to mind that we are to cooperate with the Grace of Christ in building up the Kingdom of God here on Earth, that at some point which we do not know, Christ will come again and we will be called to give account of the stewardship of the gifts that God has given to us to share.
Ok, great, how do we do this? That’s the challenge, and it really is a challenge that each one of us has to face individually; but there are some common elements that each disciple goes through. To highlight that example, I want to focus on the Saint who would be celebrated today, if today was not a Sunday.
November 30th is set aside to honor St. Andrew, one of the initial disciples of Jesus, and the one, importantly, who brought Peter to meet Jesus while they were in the wilderness with John the Baptist. It is a fairly simple story from the First Chapter of the Gospel according to John: Andrew is listening to John the Baptist when Jesus walks by, and John simply says: “Behold, the Lamb of God.” Intrigued, Andrew follows after Jesus who turns and invites Andrew to ‘Come and See’ where he is staying. But before he goes, he first finds his brother Simon and brings him along.
This little episode, comprising all of 8 versus in the Scripture, provides a paradigm of how we are to be prepared for the Coming of Christ at the End of Time. Simply, through our own quest of Discipleship, through our own pilgrimage of faith, our witness to others in both grand and small ways, should be an invitation to that other person to ‘Come and See’ where Jesus is, both here in the Church and personally in our lives as Christian disciples.
The challenge, and how this becomes ever new in the lives of the Christian Believer, is that the situation is always changing, Our Lord keeps upping the ante on us, so that he is always putting us in new situations where we might respond to His invitation of Grace at an ever deeper level. We must be prepared to give our witness no matter where we are, no matter what we are doing.
Yikes, I know this sounds extremely Protestant, but it was ours before it was theirs! And, in fact, in talking with Protestant converts to the Catholic faith, even Protestant clergy members who have left behind everything to come to the One True Faith, one of the biggest stumbling blocks that they have found is the witness of ordinary Catholics who seem to not realize the treasures that we have here in the Faith. Their eyes start to be opened to the great mystery of the Eucharist, to the wonders of all the Seven Sacraments, yet they see a lackadaisical attitude among so many Catholics that they are confused.
So, what are we to do? We have to be constantly aware of opportunities that God presents us with to share our faith, and not be afraid to take advantage of that chance to invite someone else to ‘come and see.