First Sunday of Advent – Matthew 24:36-44

The first of our Advent reflections focusing on the Sundays of Advent.

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Today is the beginning; the beginning of a new liturgical year, the beginning of the season of Advent and another opportunity for every one of us to review our relationship with God and ourselves. Why ourselves, I hear you ask? Well, we live in a society where we are the centre of our world. We spend all our time focused on improving our lot in life, focusing on tasks that we believe will make us happier, but the big problem is time. 

Time constrains our opportunity to be the person we want to be. Yet, time can be many things. My son, a planetary physicist, explains time to me as the interval in which change occurs, based on a standard. Time forms the boundaries of our successes and failures. We look to the past for wisdom and advice, we look to the present with hesitation, and we view the future with trepidation. Hindsight allows us to view our past where we can see that we have wasted too much time. 

In today’s Gospel Jesus advises us to stop wasting time. Jesus tells us that he will come for us when we least expect it, when we are preoccupied with the fruitless dealings of our lives. His advice to us is to be ready, to be prepared. We should focus more of our energy on becoming better Christians, we should become closer to God through prayer and actions. Advent is not just the opportunity to prepare for Christmas, it gives us the opportunity to prepare for the coming of Christ. 

I have a formula for luck: where preparedness meets opportunity. When we read the account of the Great Flood we probably consider Noah and his fellow mariners as being lucky because of their preparation, but we certainly consider those that Jesus reminds us of in today’s Gospel as being unlucky. Yet, if they had been more prepared, if they had read the signs and listened to Noah then they would have been saved. In the second reading, Paul advises the Romans to; “give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light.” He is frustrated as he watches them waste their time on the frivolities of this world and he wants them to be prepared. 

Jesus is not telling us to stop everything and pack a bag in readiness for his arrival. He wants us to use this interval of time to change our ways. Let us use this Season of Advent to renew our relationship with God and become better disciples. We can use the present more efficiently to focus on our actions. Give more time to prayer. Spend more time in quiet contemplation. Use our time to give of ourselves more to help others in our society. Be present more often when we are with friends and actively listen to those we love. 

Do not allow time to erode our faith. Pope Francis reminds us in his reflection On Faith that St Paul did not just have faith but proclaimed it, so let us follow his example of being a good disciple and let our armour be the Lord Jesus Christ. That way we too will be lucky when the Lord returns. 

Rev. Erik Kerr

Rev. Erik Kerr is a Permanent Deacon for the Diocese of Northampton, supporting the parish of St Joseph the Worker, Luton, Bedfordshire. He has been involved in parish life and catechesis for 25yrs. He has a Master’s degree in Catholic Social Teaching and is currently studying for a Professional Doctorate in Ministry at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.