27 November 2022

Homily - "I need Advent to teach me to slow down and to wait for the Lord. But this is not all Advent does for me."

The First Sunday of Advent (A)

Dear brothers and sisters,

In her wisdom and maternal solicitude, Mother Church gives us these days of Advent for our own good. The Church knows that” at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come” (Matthew 24:44). She knows that “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” and therefore calls us to “climb the Lord’s mountain” (Romans 13:11; Isaiah 2:3). But will we listen to the voice of our mother? Will we say, “We will go up to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1)?

We have this year the tremendous blessing of celebrating the entire four full weeks of Advent. Some may say this only means Christmas is yet a long way off, but this way of looking is done with distorted glasses. While it is true that Advent “is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered,” it is also true that Advent is “likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.”[1]

During these Advent days, the Church looks backwards in order to look forward. Why? Looking back, we see the immensity of the Lord’s love for us so that the fear of his coming as Judge is not so severe. Indeed, the certainty of his love for us instills a longing for his return, a desire to experience the fullness of his love that can only be known when we look upon him face to Face (cf. Job 19:27). Advent, then, “is a period of devout and expectant delight.”[2] Consequently, “heartfelt watchfulness, which Christians are always called to practice in their daily life,” is the hallmark of Advent.[3]

The faithful, then, approach and journey through this particular time of waiting

in the certainty of the Lord who has already appeared on earth [as] we are preparing ourselves for a future meeting with him. We use the ancient prophecies to form our sense of expectation for him, but in the Advent Liturgy he is really bringing us closer to the threshold of his second coming. Every year that passes brings the human race closer to that final coming after which God will be all in all.[4]

Some may question whether any of this is true at all, whether the world will end or if the Lord Jesus is returning. This was true in Saint Augustine’s day, which is why he said, “How much more probable it is that the coming of the Lord is near now, when there has been such an increase of time toward the end!”[5] These words remain true today.

The Church reminds us that we simply do not know when the Lord will return, but we do know he will return; he has promised this and he cannot lie. We must, then, prepare ourselves for his coming so that he will not find us outside of his friendship.

This Season of Advent is my favorite time of the year, despite – and possibly because of – the usual cold temperatures, the meteorological gloom, and the seemingly unending darkness. Advent proclaims to us that the unending dawn is coming and, as Aragorn says in the Lord of the Rings, “dawn is ever the hope of men.”

Patience is not my strongest virtue; I don’t like to wait. Perhaps you are like me. When someone tries to remind me that patience is a virtue, I often remind them that patience is often a waste of time. I need Advent to teach me to slow down and to wait for the Lord. But this is not all Advent does for me. It proclaims a great truth about joy.

…in the all too often frenetic pace of daily life it is important to find time for rest and relaxation, but true joy is linked to our relationship with God. Those who have encountered Christ in their own lives feel a serenity and joy in their hearts that no one and no situation can take from them. St Augustine understood this very well; in his quest for truth, peace and joy, after seeking them in vain in many things he concluded with his famous words: “and our heart is restless until it rests in God” (cf. Confessions, I, 1, 1).


True joy is not merely a passing state of mind or something that can be achieved with the person’s own effort; rather it is a gift, born from the encounter with the living Person of Jesus and, making room within ourselves, from welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our lives. It is the invitation of the Apostle Paul who says: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Thessalonians 5:23). 


In this Season of Advent let us reinforce our conviction that the Lord has come among us and ceaselessly renews his comforting, loving and joyful presence. We should trust in him; as St Augustine says further, in the light of his own experience: the Lord is closer to us than we are to ourselves: “interior intimo meo et superior summo meo” (“higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self”) (Confessions III, 6, 11).[6]


May Advent be your favorite season, as well, as we wait for the Lord. Amen.

[1] Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar, 39.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 11 December 2011.

[4] Aidan Nichols, Year of the Lord’s Favour: A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, Vol. 2: The Temporal Cycle Advent and Christmastide, Lent and Eastertide (Leominster, United Kingdom: Gracewing, 2012), 10-11.

[5] Saint Augustine of Hippo, Letter 77.

[6] Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 11 December 2011.

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