On this first Sunday of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year. The first thing we notice, is that Jesus comes to us in the Gospel today and speaks to us very clearly using two sets of verbs. The first one has to do with our alertness. “Wake up!” he shouts. “Stay awake!” he adds. The second set of verbs involves what we’re supposed to do when we’re awake. “Be constantly on guard!” “Be on the watch!” The Lord says in the Gospel that we should be like porters, like door openers. … “He leaves home and places his servant in charge; and he orders the man at the gate to watch with a sharp eye. Look around you! You do not know when the master of the house is coming… Do not let him come suddenly and catch you asleep.” Jesus wants us to be like door-keepers who are always awake and on guard.
During Advent, we also focus on meeting him in Bethlehem, meeting him when he comes at the end of time, and meeting him in Sacred Scripture. Meeting him in the Most Holy Eucharist, meeting him in prayer, meeting him in the various disguises he takes, in the poor, in the sick, in the lonely, in prisoners, in those we might consider our enemies, in the person sitting right next to you right now, in the priest speaking to you on his behalf right now. We’re called to be awake and alert for his presence at all times, and to open up the door when he comes and allow him to enter. As he says in the Book of Revelation, “Behold I stand at the door knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” We’re called to meet him with joy, with great loving expectation, and let him come into our hearts, into our lives. We are in reality Temples of the Holy Spirit. God wants to dwell within. We’re called to open up our hearts to him so that he can come and dwell within. But the door only has one handle, and it’s on the inside.
The second task we have as door keepers is to lock the door to those who shouldn’t enter, who want to enter to do damage, harm and destroy. The first thing we have to lock it to is the devil, who seeks to come into the temple of the Holy Spirit we’re called to be with the Lord inside and wreak all types of havoc. And the thing about the devil is that often he’ll come in disguise, looking fine, as someone or something attractive and good, but then he’ll take over. So we have to be on our guard. The second thing we have to be on guard to lock out is related to this. It’s sin and those who want to lead us to sin. There are certain people whose presence takes us from God. It’s not that they’re necessarily evil people, but whether it be their polluted language, exaggerated worldliness, or especially their desire to have us engage in sinful activity with them, we have to be on the lookout. May the Lord help us stay awake, and watch, and be every ready for his return to us. Amen.
Father Michael Adams is the Pastor of Our Lady of the Shoals Catholic Church. Learn more about him here.