"So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your Master is coming".
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today the Church begins Advent, a special time. It's a special time because today we begin a new liturgical year. Advent was chosen to begin the year as a reminder of the time in history when Christ was not known to us. With His birth the beginning of our faith was founded. Advent is a time of expectation and preparation for the birth of the Lord. A new time, a new opportunity and a new challenge. One of the characteristics of Advent is that it is a time of waiting. Today we have to ask ourselves: what am I waiting for in my life? Or maybe I can discover that in my life I am not waiting for something anymore. I have my life, I have a plan for my life. This situation can be a problem because if I do not expect anything new in my life I need nothing from other people and finally I need nothing form God. And especially if sometimes we are tired and we don't want change anything in our life. God gives us every year this special time we call Advent.
What does Advent mean? The term is derived from the Latin word meaning "coming". Yes, we are waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. In today's gospel Jesus tells us how we should wait for His coming:
"As it was in Noah's day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes. For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and they suspected nothing till the Flood came and swept all away."
We should listen carefully to today's gospel. Disciples of Jesus listen carefully to what he says. If I want be a disciple of Jesus I should listen carefully what Jesus says to me. The first characteristic of a disciple of Jesus is exactly this: listen carefully to Jesus. In our time, in our world we usually have a problem with listening carefully to other people and also with listening carefully our Lord Jesus Christ. During Advent we have a good opportunity to learn to listen carefully to our Lord Jesus Christ. Before today's gospel we heard the verse from PS 84: "Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help". This saving help for us is the capacity to listen to what is taught to us by Jesus and today Jesus reminds us: "As it was in Noah's day, so will it be when the Son o Man comes". Just like today there is nothing special, we have our regular normal life: "For in those days before the Flood people were eating, drinking, taking wives, taking husbands". And during these normal, regular days " the Flood came and swept all away". Except one man Noah, he was prepared for the Flood.
At this point we need to ask: Why Noah was prepared for the Flood? According to book of Genesis God said to Noah: Build an ark of cypress wood. And Noah did all as God had commanded him.
Noah was ready for the Flood because he heard carefully the voice of God and not only he heard but he did all as God had commanded him. That is really an important thing: sometimes we Christians, we listen to the gospel, we know the commandments of God and we know the teaching of Church but we have this knowledge without living according God's will. Advent is the time when we are call to conversion, we need to practice our faith in our life, we need realize what Jesus and the Church teach us.
If I want make this Advent a special time for increasing my faith, the Church suggests several things to do. The first one we just spoke about: listen carefully to voice of God. The second suggestion, during Advent we can dedicate more time for personal and community prayer. For example, in our parish every Friday evening we have "Divine Mercy" prayer with exposition of the Holy Sacrament. Maybe during Advent this can be a good practice for us.
And of special importance during Advent go to the sacrament of penance or conversion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks abut this sacrament starting with the question:
What is this Sacrament Called? And immediately responds:
It is called the sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed by sin.
It is called the sacrament of Penance, since it consecrates the Christian sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction.
The time of Advent is a time when we are called to do these things I have mentioned, listen carefully to the voice of God, penance and dedicate time for prayer, because we waiting for our master Jesus Christ. "So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your Master is coming".