First Sunday of Advent - homily
Today’s Gospel seems very timely for the week we just had which was a very tough week. Jesus’s line about “if the master of the house had known…when the thief was coming” speaks directly to the situation with Sean Taylor of the Redskins. Also, there was a good, young man from St John’s High School who died this past week, Carl Waclawik. These are two young men who died suddenly. Our hope is that they were prepared. Jesus says to us, “you also must be prepared”. It can happen at any time, folks.
Our hope is that Sean and Carl lived with Jesus, died with Jesus, and will live forever with Christ in his Kingdom.
When we hear about studies and surveys of what people most worry about or are afraid of, death is one of those things. I think that one major reason people are worried about death is that we are worried about judgement. When we talk about judgement, we talk about "particular judgement" which will occur at the end of each of our lives. We also talk about Final Judgement which will occur at the end of the world, at the second coming of Christ. If we prepare for judgement, we will be less worried about it.
One of the things that also makes the list of people’s biggest worries is public speaking. Many people are more worried about speaking in public than death! And yet, if people practice their speeches or talks, they will be less worried about them. If they prepare, they will be less worried. There’s also the example of preparing for a thief or burglar. If we prepare our home with the proper security, then we will be less worried about a break-in. In the same way, if we prepare for judgement, we will be less worried about it.
Jesus talks about judgement in today’s Gospel. I’d like to point out three things he says. First, he says that the people who lived “in Noah’s days” gave no thought to things like judgement. They gave no thought to impending catastrophe, like a flood. That was their bigger sin; it was bigger than any carrying on they were doing with eating or drinking. Second, Jesus says to the Apostles and to us, don’t do the same thing! Don’t get so busy that you give no thought to judgement. Third, those who are “taken” are those who are prepared, those who are vigilant. We want to among those who are taken to the kingdom. We want to be among those who are prepared.
How do we prepare for judgement? We stay close to Jesus. Two specific ways to prepare for judgement are the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Most Holy Eucharist. When we go to Confession, it’s like we start judgement now. We go before the priest who is acting in the person of Christ the Judge. The priest judges our actions but also offers mercy to us, the penitents. Rather than waiting for one big judgement at the end of our lives, we take it incrementally every time we go to Confession.
If we stay close to the Eucharist, then we will not be worried about judgement. If we stay close to the Eucharist, then we live lives of Grace which gets us to Heaven; we stay close to Jesus and in close friendship with Him. That’s what this is all about.
We hope that Sean and Carl stayed close to Jesus and were prepared. We hope that we, too, stay close to Jesus, that we are prepared, that we are vigilant, and that we are among those who will be taken to eternal life.