As a child, growing up in Glasgow, we tended to get new clothes on special occasions, these tended to be around Easter; before going on holiday; the start of school or at Christmas. Sometimes these were handed down from older relatives and sometimes they would actually be new. My mum would often be part of something called a ‘menage’, which was a group of people, usually associated with a workplace who would put money aside every week and take their turn at cashing it out. A sort of collective saving scheme. My mum mostly chose her turn to be around Easter or Christmas, so that she could make sure we looked our best going to Church. Even today, I love the smell of new clothes when I first put them on.
In today’s readings we are being asked to remember when we first realised that Christ is our Saviour, [and] we are being asked to savour that moment, but not to dwell in that moment. We are called to live in the present moment because the hour of our salvation is closer now than it was the hour we first believed. So, St Paul urges us to stay awake and live in the light; to stay away from the activities which we would be embarrassed to share with our friends who live in the light. St Paul urges us to live decently and to clothe ourselves in the armour of Christ.
In today’s first reading we hear Isaiah use an ancient song the Israelites used whilst in captivity. It was a song used to restore joy during hard times reminding them that God would lead them back to their homeland and that they would live there in peace, as people from all nations would be called there too.
There is an emphasis on suddenness in the Gospel, as Jesus explains that when he comes again people will be going about their normal business, doing everyday things when the Son of Man will return and bring judgement. We are called to be ready for this by staying alert and mindful of the activities we engage in.
Advent is a time of preparation, we spend lots of time getting ourselves ready, organising what we will buy, who we will invite, where we will be. As Christians we are called to be spiritually ready too.
When we contemplate what we can afford to spend, do we budget in what we would like to spend supporting those who have little or nothing?
Have we as Catholics built in a time to be spiritually prepared by attending some formation or putting in our diaries when we can celebrate Reconciliation? For example, the Pastoral Area Reconciliation Service is planned for the afternoon of Sunday 18th December at 2:30 at St Joseph’s Church in Basingstoke.
Have we actively engaged in the 6 Holy Habits; which Bishop Philip has encouraged us to develop?
These are more important than what we will wear to a Christmas party. Advent is a time of two comings; we look back to the first Christmas Day [when Jesus first came into the world] and we look forward to the second Coming of Our Lord. We, as Christians need to be prepared for both. For me, I will stop spending time on Social Media during Advent and spend the time I would normally have engaged in that in prayer or reading the Scriptures. “Advent reminds us of the truth of faith that at the end of time is the beginning of eternity.”1
When we die, whether it is sudden or after a prolonged illness we need to be ready to face Jesus. This is what we started out to do when we were baptised. When we see Jesus in His splendour on that day, we hope to hear Him say “welcome home, we have been waiting for you.” Advent tells us that Jesus is ready for us, but first of all, we need to get ourselves ready for that day; a day that ends our life here on earth and starts the beginning of our eternity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 668-677, 769: the final tribulation and Christ’s return in glory
CCC 451, 671, 1130, 1403, 2817: “Come, Lord Jesus!”
CCC 2729-2733: humble vigilance of heart
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Peace between all Nations.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those in business who have the power to make decisions to help the poor.
- All those working in Parishes and the Diocese on the ten-year plan
- The souls in Purgatory, especially those with no-one to pray for them.
- Margarita, Maximilano, Chisimdi and Ethan who will be baptised in St Bede’s on Sunday 27th November.
- All of our young people preparing for the Sacraments.
- Those attending our RCIA programme.
- Those who may be embarrassed or too proud to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
1 Robert Draper, Breaking the Word, Pastoral Review Volume 18, Issue 4, [The Tablet Publishing Company Limited, London, 2022]81.