Brothers and Sisters, as we continue the season of Advent, a season of preparation for the coming of the Word as a baby born in a manger because nobody bothered to find a room for an expectant mother, we are reminded to discipline ourselves with patience. We need patience because we know not the hour. We need patience because “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.” We need patience because God is patient with us, giving us time to prepare for his coming at the end of time.
Just a couple of weeks ago, the Church celebrated the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. We celebrated the end of time, when Christ will reign in Heaven with all those who are saved, and the Heavenly Banquet will be an eternal feast. We celebrated the Day of Judgment: that day when each of us will go before our Maker and be judged as sheep or goat, passing to the right or the left according to how we accepted the gift of salvation offered to us during our lives. When St. Peter says “the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar,” this is what he is describing.
We each receive our particular judgment at our death. When we die, we are headed to one of two destinations. One destination is very, very good: it is blessed communion with our eternal loving Father. The other is exactly the opposite: eternity separated from love.
St. Peter exhorts the Christians in the first century — and us in the 21st — to live our lives in such a way as to ensure we reach the destination we said at our Baptism we desire. We are to conduct ourselves in holiness and devotion.
The world we live in is not one of holiness and devotion. As we humbly prepare for the coming of the eternal King of the Universe as a defenseless baby born in irregular circumstances, the world races from mall to mall in desperate search of stuff to cram beneath the Christmas Tree in a pagan offering to the god of materialism. As we slow down in the season of Advent, the world accelerates in a climactic progression of Christmas parties at the office, at school, and at home. At precisely the moment when the world collapses in its easy chair, we proclaim Immanuel — the Anointed One of God With Us. As they sleep off the excesses of the shopping season, we celebrate twelve days of Christmas.
Our call to holiness, and our imperative for patience, applies in Advent toward those who know not that the day of the Lord will come like a thief. We must keep our low profile and our posture of humble obedience while the world competes for purchases like a fight in Filene’s Basement. And we must not judge those who do not see. In our observance of Advent, we may be the Bible for somebody who has never read it. In our patience and self-control, in our joyful waiting for the day of the Lord, we may bring somebody to Christ.
So, be patient, be holy, be loving — all in a spirit of joyful expectation for the coming of God in the flesh as a newborn at Christmas and as King of the Universe at the Final Judgment.