Love of God and Peace of Soul First Sunday of Advent Year C
Jeremiah 33:14-16 Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Today we celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a semi-penitential time like the season of Lent, which precedes Easter.
During Advent, the Church encourages us to intensify our life of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. Prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, when properly done, aids us in loving God above all else by detaching us from any excessive attachments to ourselves, to our money and possessions, and to the pleasures of earthly life.
Prayer detaches us from ourselves us since when we truly pray, we acknowledge before God, our Creator, that we are creatures. Almsgiving detaches us from our money and possessions where we demonstrate to our neighbor that we love them by giving something that we own to them. Fasting detaches us from earthly pleasures by deliberately saying no to a pleasure that is not even necessarily sinful, for example by eating less food than we need, or by sleeping less by waking up late at night to spend time in a prayer vigil, and in other ways.
Through the gospel reading, Jesus cautions us from becoming overly attached to pleasures of this world by saying, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness.” With these words Jesus is not saying that enjoying the goods of the life is evil. Rather, he is teaching that over-indulging, in taking too much delight in the goods of this world is evil, for when we do so we begin viewing the pleasurable object as our ultimate end, and only God is.
All addictions are ultimately forms of idolatry where instead of loving God above all created reality we instead turn away from God and plunge ourselves in created reality by consuming to much alcohol, by excessively pursuing honor and by acquiring more and more money, and by becoming self-absorbed in pleasurable experiences to the point of not caring about others, neither God nor my neighbor. All that matters, when we become totally absorbed in satisfying all our immediate pleasures, is ourselves.
Jesus relates these idolatrous, addictive patterns with anxiety, with a lack of peace of soul, heart, and mind. This is because our hearts, souls, minds, and very bodies are only at peace when we rest in God, as St. Augustine teaches. (Confessions, Bk I, Chapter I)
During Advent we are to examine our lives with the thought if Jesus comes today, or tomorrow to judge the living and the dead will we want to leave this world behind to be taken up into His life or will we shy away from Jesus since I am overly attached to my life, my possessions, and the pleasures of this world. Similarly, if I die today or tomorrow and meet Jesus, will I want to leave this world behind to be taken up into Jesus’ life or will I shy away from Jesus since I am overly attached to my life, my possessions, and the pleasures of this world?
As we grow in being fathers and mothers, either biological or spiritual, we will become less attached to our lives, our possessions, and the pleasures of this world. An example of this detachment from self and growth in concern for others, God and our neighbor, is evident, comments Brant Pitre, in how a mother or father responds when their sick baby repeatedly cries out during the night. A loving mother and father will wake up and attend to the needs of their sick baby. By interrupting their sleep and getting out of bed the mother and father is saying no to the pleasure of sleep to love their sick baby. This is at the basis of the practice of night vigils, where people will wake up late at night to pray to God and pray for their brothers and sisters who are need. By doing so, we are saying no to even the pleasure of sleep; we are detaching ourselves from our essential need for sleep, we sacrifice it out of love of God and neighbor, and is a way, among many others, of growing in the life of Jesus as loving fathers and mothers to one another.
Tâm Tình Con Dâng: I Offer You My Heart (Mai Khanh)
Brant Pitre, “The First Sunday of Advent (Year C),” catholicproductions.com.
 Brant Pitre, “The First Sunday of Advent (Year C),” catholicproductions.com.