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TAKE HEED, FOR YOU DO NOT KNOW WHEN THE TIME WILL COME
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 1st Sunday of Advent, November 28, 2010
Isa. 2:1-5, Ps. 121, Rom. 13:11-14, Matt. 24:37-44


"Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light" (Rom. 13:11-12).


We are now approaching the day of salvation, the day of Christ and the manifestation of his glory. We should therefore wake up from our sleep and walk in his new light that is already beginning to dawn upon us, "because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining" (1 John 2:8). So "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you" (Isa. 60:1-2). His light is already dawning upon us, for Christ has come. We can therefore walk even now in this dawning light. Yet we are longing for its full manifestation when the Lord returns in glory, which every eye shall see (Rev. 1:7). This is the day that is now at hand and is nearer now than when we first believed, for the night is now far gone. "Know that the Lord is coming and with him all his saints; that day will dawn with a wonderful light" (antiphon, first vespers, First Sunday of Advent). We are therefore to walk in the light of his coming. Such is the Christian life, living in pious and joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord in manifest glory.


We are to live each day as though he were to come today. So has Jesus taught us: "Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (Matt. 24:42). "Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Rom. 13:12-14).


It does not matter if the Lord does not come for a long time-this is still the way we are to live: in eager and joyful expectation and preparation. We are to leave behind our former way of life, when we followed the disordered desires of the flesh, and unify our life-body and soul together-in a new quest for the things that are above, living henceforth only for the Lord. Our whole life should be devoted to him alone, for we cannot serve both God and mammon (Matt. 6:24). Our spirit cannot serve God while our flesh serves sin. Nor do we want to be divided, serving the things that are below and also those that are above, for this is impossible. Rather, we are to live a new and risen life in Christ, devoted to him. "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Col. 3:1-2).


We have died with Christ to our old way of living and have risen with him to a completely new way of life in the light, preparing ourselves each day for his coming to consummate all things and fill us with his splendor. We are to hope for this. If we live this way, we will be living correctly, and will "be pure and blameless for the day of Christ" (Phil. 1:10), when the Lord comes with all his saints in great light (Zech. 14:5, 7).


Thus Jesus Christ came the first time that we might be born anew in him and live henceforth in eager and joyful expectation for his second coming in glory. The light of his glory is now dawning upon us, for "the night is far gone, the day is at hand" (Rom. 13:12). This day is now nearer than when we first believed. This is how Jesus wants us to think and live. "For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13). He appeared the first time to make us new so that we would put on Christ (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:24) and long for his manifestation in splendor on the clouds of heaven. On that day, "the Lord will become king over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9). "On that day sweet wine will flow from the mountains, milk and honey from the hills, alleluia" (antiphon, lauds, First Sunday of Advent). "The mountains and hills will sing praise to God; all the trees of the forest will clap their hands, for he is coming, the Lord of a kingdom that lasts for ever. Alleluia" (antiphon, lauds, First Sunday of Advent).


May we not be like Noah's generation, for the flood caught them all unprepared, and they were destroyed. Yet Jesus tells us that "as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man" (Matt. 24:37). Let us not be unaware and unprepared as they were, for on that day, "two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left ... Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (Matt. 24:40, 42).


Even though we may die before he returns, we must still live in watchfulness and eager expectation for his coming. This is how he wants us always to live-lives of joyful preparation for that day of great light when he consummates all things. Whether dead or alive, we will see his coming (1 Thess. 4:16-17). So may God "establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Thess. 3:13).


We await the destruction of the present world (2 Pet. 3:10-12) and a "new heavens and a new earth" (2 Pet. 3:13). So "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God ... Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace" (2 Pet. 3:11-12, 14).

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