Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


1st Sunday of Advent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
December 1st, 2013
Year A

To ‘prepare’ means to ‘get ready’, to ‘plan’, and to ‘organize’. We engage in many activities in life that call for preparation – study, work, athletics, and so on. For me, I like to cook. Anyone else who enjoys food and cooking as much as I do knows that a great deal preparation is put into making a meal. You have to have the right ingredients and the proper method – the right recipe – in order to have the outcome you desire. The same is true for Advent. During this liturgical season we use this theme of preparation in order to ready ourselves for Christmas.  Much of which depends on what we are putting into it and how we are preparing.

At this junction in St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus moves from talking about future events to our preparation for them. The focus has narrowed to the “day” and the “hour”. To make His point, He turns to Noah. Noah didn’t just sit around waiting for it to rain. He prepared for it in obedience to God. He is perhaps also hinting toward carelessness in which man thinks it more important to eat and drink, to find a spouse, and carry on with life with no outlook toward the eternal. He, therefore, places an emphasis on staying awake because there is a danger in being lulled to sleep by sin. He wants His disciples to be alert and to be ready for His coming – which requires a certain amount of vigilance.

Jesus calls us to the same preparation. He does so in order that we may be more acutely aware of the presence of God in our lives. Therefore, we must engage in the same preparation, in the same vigilance. Advent presents to us an opportunity to do just that. Yet, before we embark upon 4 short weeks of preparation, we must ask: for what are we preparing? Are we preparing for a birthday party? Are we preparing for a day in which we spend time family, open presents, listen to secular Christmas music, and eat way too much dessert? None of which are inherently bad yet can distract us from the true meaning of Christmas. What is that true meaning? Jesus comes to us in a real and profound way, Jesus come. Christmas celebrates that day in history when God was born, when He entered into this world, when He came among us and made Himself known. Yet, as St. John notes in his Gospel: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11).

Jesus is issuing us a warning shot today, the first Sunday of Advent – do not miss the opportunity that is presented in this liturgical season to prepare for the Lord’s coming – to receive Him into our hearts. The question we now need to ask is this: how will we prepare for Him? How will we welcome Him? St. Paul gives a good starting point: “put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ…” In other words, St. Paul encourages us to use this time to examine our lives, our hearts, our conscience, and our conduct. What are the areas of our lives that are in need of God’s mercy and healing? Where do I need change in order to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” In so doing the words of Isaiah then become all the more encouraging and set on the right path: “Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in His ways and we may walk in his paths.” Thus the readings of the Mass offer a plan of action for this Advent Season:

1. To each day, examine our conduct and to ask the Lord that He may show us where we need change in our lives, where we need His mercy and healing.

2. To engage in the Lord’s instruction by way of spiritual reading and study of our faith. Perhaps a good start would be to read the Holy Father’s Encyclical on Faith or his Apostolic Exhortation: the Joy of the Gospel.

3. Finally, we must not forget to pray daily and attend Mass – maybe even a few times a week in addition to Sunday.

In these three simple ways, we enthusiastically prepare for the Lord’s coming. A plan such as this one serves to remind us that this is not a birthday party but rather that this is God and His love means more than lights, desserts, trees and eggnog. Here, He gives us an opportunity to refocus our attention to Godly things, to eternal life, and to a deeper relationship with Him. I think that because we can be so distracted by so many things – not just the preparation for Christmas dinner, and the buying, the shopping, and such but also life can be distracting – work, school, family, trials, etc. We are given an opportunity to reclaim our focus, to awaken ourselves to God’s way, an opportunity to be humble and follow Him. For we must remember that God calls each and every one of us to holiness – to be united to Him in love – and Advent allows us to pursue holiness, to pursue a more intimate friendship, more deeply held communion with Him.

May we not spend these days of Advent preparing for an event, for a birthday party, but rather, may we spend these days preparing for the Lord to enter our hearts and renew our love for Him.




Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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