Homily for Advent 1
December 2, 2018
Embrace Christ’s First Coming So We Won’t Fear His Second
It’s always pretty bad to be caught red-handed, but imagine the fear someone would feel if they were caught standing guard over a giant pile of gunpowder…as part of a plot to blow up the government. Back in England in 1605, a number of people were unhappy with King James I and his Parliament, so they decided to revolt, by blowing up the House of Lords. These conspirators rented a storage room immediately under the Parliament building and filled it with gunpowder, with one of them standing guard at all times.
Unfortunately for them, the King was tipped off to the plot, and did a surprise raid on the building. They caught one man – Guy Fawkes was his name – and eventually executed him for treason. Imagine the horror Mr. Fawkes must have felt when they walked in on him, he who was trying to rebel against the King! He knew that his death warrant was sealed, as he was caught red-handed with a pile of gunpowder!
If someone is found to be a friend of the King, they will receive a reward, a promotion, a blessing. If someone is found to be a traitor to the King, they will receive a punishment. The same person – the King – inspires both love and fear, depending upon your relationship to him.
And so it is with Christ. I was intrigued as I read this Gospel about the two different reactions people will have at the Second Coming of Jesus. Our Lord says that “some people will die of fright” – they will be so terrified when they see Jesus coming on the clouds in glory that they will drop dead! But then He goes on to say, “But for you” – and He is speaking to His disciples – “Lift up your heads, for your redemption is now at hand.” For those who are His friends and His followers, the Second Coming of Christ will not be a fearful thing, but a joyful event, something we will look forward to.
Advent is not really about preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. That is a historical event that has already happened. Instead, Advent is about more serious preparation for Christ’s Second Coming. There are two ways in which He will come again – first, He will come at the end of time, when He will come in glory and judge the world. But before that happens, He will come to each one of us at the end of our earthly lives.
So if we embrace Christ at His first coming as a baby at Bethlehem, we have no need to fear the second coming of Christ as judge. If we follow Him faithfully on this earth, we do not need to be afraid to see Him in eternity. Our choice of whether or not to follow the Lord Jesus on this earth will determine whether or not we wish to follow Him in the next life.
It always amazes me when I see families that have big dogs like a Labrador or a Great Dane and at the same time have a baby or a toddler. It’s funny to watch how the baby interacts with the big dog; they often seem totally okay with this giant beast hanging out around them, and the dog is usually happy to be pet by the kid – or ridden like a horse! I am amazed when the child isn’t afraid of this animal which is larger than them, but the kids lose their fear because they love the pet.
St. John writes in the Bible that “perfect love casts out fear”. When we love God, there is no need to fear Him. Yes, He is powerful and awe-inspiring; yes, He is the just Judge and eternal King – but if we love Him with a deep love, and invite Him into our souls and seek to follow Him, then we do not need to fear His judgment or His kingship when He returns in glory.
So, this Advent, we prepare for Christ’s triumphant coming at the end of time or at the end of our lives – and we prepare by receiving Him into our souls through faith and in the Eucharist. If we willingly embrace Christ’s first coming as a man and in the Eucharist, then we do not need to fear His second glorious coming when He triumphs as our King.