Readings: Isaiah 2.1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13.11-14; Matthew 24.37-44 (See the readings at usccb.org.)
Finally, on Monday, I’ll get to do something that I probably should have done a while ago, but the incredible weather in November has let me procrastinate a bit. I’m getting my winter tires put on my vehicle. I know that not everyone gets winter tires, but ever since I hit a ditch a few years ago — going at a slow speed, mind you, but it was slippery — ever since then, winter tires have been a must for me. It’s just one of those things that I need for a trip in the snow, whether it’s on Saskatchewan highways or down the street to the Co-op.
That’s not to say that I always prepare well for this. Back in early October I was heading out to Edmonton to give a session at the seminary there. And I count myself very fortunate that it worked out ok. I saw the forecasts before I left, that we’d be getting up to a foot of snow… but I ignored it. I figured that couldn’t possibly happen — even though I should have known better. I’ve lived in this province all my life and I’ve seen snow in every month except for maybe July! So off to Edmonton I went, with my summer tires on. And I just made it back home in time for the large snowflakes. I was kind of lucky there! If I had left even an hour later, it would have been pretty dicey. I wasn’t very well prepared, even though I knew what was coming.
The coming of Jesus is kind of like this. (I know, I’m about to compare winter and winter tires with Jesus and Advent. Bear with me…) We know Jesus is coming. He tells us in the gospels over and over again: I’m coming. I’m coming at an hour that you don’t expect. So be ready; be prepared.
Back to the car analogy. I think it’s a natural fit when the first reading and the psalm talk about travelling: travelling up to Jerusalem, up to the temple, and up to the presence of God. It’s Advent: we go out to meet Jesus Christ, who is coming. So put on your winter tires — in a spiritual sense — as St. Paul says, put on Christ. Be conformed to him in a new way, especially in Advent through prayer and charity.
First, prayer: It strikes me that, as a parish, we’ve got a special opportunity to grow in this, as we’ve been invited to pray the traditional Holy Spirit prayer every day:
“Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.” It’s on the front page of the parish website. And we should pray it together every day, especially as we’re into Advent. Jesus came to Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. If we’re going to put on Christ as St. Paul said, we also need to call on the Holy Spirit. So with the help of the Holy Spirit, put on your spiritual winter tires; put on Christ.
Second, charity: We have many opportunities to put on Christ through charity in the days leading up to Christmas: ways of doing good for others. Let’s enter into that. Find a way for your family to enter more deeply into giving of yourselves to others, whether in large and small ways. It’s an essential way to put on Christ, so that people see him through us.
Now if I could push the car metaphor a bit further — Advent’s also a great time for an oil change: a spiritual oil change. It’s another chance to get rid of the junk, of the sin that tends to build up in order to be filled with him. We have the opportunity for confessions all over the city, and especially during our Advent parish mission that’s coming up in a couple of weeks. Get a spiritual oil change.
Jesus is coming, so be prepared.
Now I know that can sound kind of ominous: be prepared! It could be kind of like Scar in The Lion King — Be Prepaaaared! But the coming of Jesus isn’t something we need to be afraid of. Scripture says again and again, be not afraid. It’s the preparation for the coming of a guest that we want to see, someone we love who’s coming over.
So we prepare — in hope! Our Saviour is on his way! Jesus is coming to us. Let’s give him a good welcome. Put on your winter tires — or as St. Paul says, put on Christ.
We’d love to have you at Mass! Mass times at Holy Spirit Parish are: Saturday, 5pm; Sunday, 10am, 12 noon, and 7pm.