Spending time with today’s Mass readings, prayers, and scripture from the Liturgy of Hours drives home a strong invitation from this Advent season: conversion of life to the LORD. What stands out most is the call to grow in good deeds to others.
Spend some time praying and reflecting on the Opening Prayer for Mass on this First Sunday of Advent:
Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen!
This prayer draws our attention to be mindful that our entrance into God’s Kingdom hinges on Jesus Christ, and our life, rooted in Christ, must lead us to be generous in love and active in good works for others.
St. Paul puts this prayer into a strong instruction in the second reading today from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians 3:12- 4:2:
Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all,
Growing in holiness cannot be restricted to prayer alone; cannot be limited to our knowledge of the faith and the Church’s teaching – though these are necessary and informative for living a moral life. Holiness must be more than avoiding evil; it requires us as St. Paul says: ‘to increase and abound in love for one another and for all.’
Jesus cautions in similar fashion with these words from the Gospel of St. Luke (21: 25-28, 34 -36):
Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life,
What better way to stimulate our hearts so as not to become drowsy than to exercise love. This is the conversion we seek this Advent – to recognize that Christ has already come into the world through the Incarnation. Christ has already come into the hearts of each of us. Let us allow the presence of Christ within us to move us to greater love for others, to recognize his presence in those in need, and “to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming.”
May this Advent be such a moment of grace for each of us, “for even now, as we walk amid passing things, You teach us by them to love the things of heaven and hold fast to what endures.” (Prayer After Communion – 1st Sunday of Advent)
To give you some resources for how you can better keep the spirit of Advent in your lives and homes, here is a link to the USCCB website for Advent.