First Sunday of Advent: Watch!

Note: Fr. Ed’s homily for the First Sunday of Advent is now available online! Click here to listen.

burning lamp“Ready or not, here I come!”

How often did we use that phrase while growing up, indicating that the seeker was now going after the hidden! This is the theme that will dominate Advent, as we hear in many readings that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is coming and we must prepare the way for Him.

Being prepared is the heart of this Sunday’s Gospel, i.e.: “May He not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’” But for us, of course, it is not really a mystery in terms of when He is coming;  indeed, we will be barraged during this month with a constant reminder of exactly how many more shopping days we have until He arrives! This gives us a certain advantage, in that we can prayerfully consider and plan out how we might best use this Advent as an opportunity to prepare for Him coming more deeply into our hearts as we celebrate the great gift of the Incarnation.

From owners to stewards

How can we most profitably use this Advent to prepare for our own deeper conversion? A key element in this is the gift that we received from the Diocese of Lansing as we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King. Our Bishop called the entire Diocese to carefully reflect on just what each of us is doing to be better and better intentional disciples of the King of Kings. We were given a little guide to examine in terms of not only our prayer, study, and service, but in terms of who we should reach out to, offering them the gift of life in Jesus that we have received.

In line with this desire to be intentional disciples of the Lord Jesus, how do we live as stewards of His many gifts to us? On that Solemnity of Christ the King, we knelt down and prayed together that He would be even more the center of our lives. This must be much more for us than simply a prayerful sentiment. It should actually impact our lives in a profound way. Surrendering to the Lord Jesus entails us moving from being owners of our lives to being stewards of our lives—recognizing that everything that we have is a gift from Him. He calls us to prayerfully discern how to use those gifts for His great glory.

Time, talent, treasure

Stewardship is often viewed as involving time, talent, and treasure. As we reflect on being even better intentional disciples, these categories are useful referents. For example, in a certain way, our most valuable component is our time. How do we use our time to glorify God, by drawing closer to Him in prayer, by studying His Word, by sharing the good news with those around us? Relatedly, how do we use our talents to serve both the people of God He has called us to share our lives with and those around us in the broader human family who could benefit from the use of our talents?

Finally, how do we use our treasure in a concrete way to build the Kingdom? The Diocese helps us answer that question through its capital campaign, Witness to Hope. At Christ the King, the campaign has both a diocesan component—education, service to the poor, seminarian funding, etc.—and a local component—finishing the Church’s lower level, expanding the narthex, and expanding our parking. These local components have been chosen as being particularly useful in both serving our own folks as well as preparing our facilities so that we can be even more the hospitable, welcoming parish that the Lord Jesus has called us to be.

The Bishop has placed a very high priority on asking all the Catholics of the Diocese of Lansing to participate, to the extent that they are able, in the Diocesan components of the campaign. I and the Senior Leadership Team are certainly hoping that the parishioners of Christ the King will similarly respond to our local campaign as well. The Lord Jesus has truly called each one of us to be, as the campaign so aptly puts it, a Witness to Hope. Let us witness to that hope that we possess as intentional disciples, grateful to the King for all His gifts, especially Himself!—Fr. Ed