Message from Bishop Burbidge for First Sunday of Advent

Corpus Christi Parish, December 3, 2017


"Wake up" is a phrase often addressed to us. Of course, that is never necessary for you to hear when the priests of your parish are preaching! Perhaps, however, we heard those words most recently after we ate that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner only to be caught dozing afterwards. Perhaps there have been times that a loved one or a treasured friend told us "to wake up" because they saw us drifting from being the person we were supposed to be and encouraged us to come back to our senses.

Today, on this First Sunday of Advent, and out of love for us, Jesus and His Church call us “to wake up,” to be watchful and to stay alert! As we begin this sacred season, we note that the readings are not about the first coming of Christ, His birth in Bethlehem. They are about His second coming, His return on a day and at an hour we do not know. On that day, we must be awake, ready and prepared to meet Our Lord. We must heed that call, not tomorrow, but today!

So perhaps this Advent is calling us "to wake up" and to stop to give thanks for God’s many blessings in our midst each day, that we too often take for granted; "to wake up" to the darkness of sin in our lives and to begin walking anew in the Light of Christ; to wake up to the need to move away from the chaos of daily living and simply to slow down; "to wake up” to the family members, friends, co-workers and those in most need in our community who need our generosity, forgiveness or attention, recognizing that in the end we will be judged to the extent that we loved and served one another.

Our readings today and the call “to wake up” are not given to us to create fear. Just the opposite! The Word of God at the beginning of this sacred season is assuring us of the Lord’s abiding presence and love. The prophet Isaiah tells us that God never gives up on us and is always faithful. Saint Paul reminds us that, in the midst of recognizing our need to change, we do not have rely on our own efforts, because in Christ Jesus we are not lacking in any spiritual gift.

Thus, in this sacred season and before Christmas, I encourage you, dear friends, to call upon those gifts with complete reliance on God’s infinite love in the quiet of prayer, in the turning to His Blessed Mother for her help, in the celebration of the Sacraments—most especially the Holy Eucharist, the source of our strength, and the Sacrament of Penance. May I suggest that you make a good confession early in this season with assurance that there is no sin greater than God’s mercy. What better way to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Christ!

May I also make a special request to the families who are here today? What our world, our nation and our Church need more than ever are “holy families.” I truly believe that holy families will help to transform the darkness we are witnessing in our midst with the light of Christ. Thus, I ask you, dear families, to make a commitment especially in this Advent season to pray together. Try to do so before meals. Maybe consider praying at least a decade of the Rosary. Perhaps at the conclusion of the day you can pray by thanking God for His blessings and presenting Him with your specific intentions. All evidence points to the fact that married couples who pray together are strengthened and renewed in their promises to each other. In addition, families who pray together help each other to grow in holiness. What better gift could we give to each other!

For all of us, may we turn to Mary and Joseph and ask that, through their intercession, we may stay awake and alert throughout this Advent season and always so that on the day the Lord calls us to Himself we may be ready and prepared so that we may live with Him forever and ever. Amen.