The Portland Peninsula and Island Parishes
Homily for the
First Sunday of Advent
Reverend Kyle L. Doustou
November 27, 2016
It was a Friday afternoon in December of 1994. I was only seven years old, but I remember the experience like it was yesterday. Breaking my parent’s rules, I was flipping through the channels on the television without adult supervision and came across a commercial for a new horror movie. It scared the living daylights out of me. I quickly changed the channel to cartoons, but the damage had already been done…the sounds and images were burned into my mind. As you can imagine, bedtime that night was a disaster…and despite my pleading and crying, my parents insisted that I go to bed at my regular time. They tucked me in, told me there were no such things as monsters, and said that the sooner I close my eyes and go to sleep the sooner morning would come and everything would feel better. Their words, however, offered me no real comfort. I was so scared that I didn’t sleep the entire night…I was consumed by and obsessing over my fear, convinced that at any moment the worst was going to happen. I lay there, tucked under my covers agonizing for hours, but then, slowly, the first hints of twilight started to come in through my window. I jumped out from under my covers, opened my blinds, and watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon. It was the first real sunrise I had ever seen and it was breath-taking. The sun was like a superhero, coming in and powerfully defeating the villain that was darkness. With every second my fear was dissipating and I felt stronger and braver. Soon the dawn, the morning sun, was pouring into my bedroom and I felt silly that I had ever been scared in the first place.
The night is advanced, St. Paul tells us in our second reading today, and the day is at hand. The darkness, the shadows, the fear…it’s all fading away because Christ, the true and everlasting Son of God, is close at hand. It is time for us, then, to throw off the covers – to throw off the works of darkness – and, to cast aside our fear, and rush to our windows to see the rising sun. It is time to put on the armor of light and to, strongly and bravely, prepare for the Lord Who comes.
My friends, today we find ourselves beginning the holy season of Advent once again. The word “Advent” itself means the arrival, the coming towards, the approach – and this blessed season serves to focus our minds and hearts on the great mystery of God’s real, tangible, and immanent in-breaking into our world. He came to us 2,000 years ago, veiled in the flesh as a tiny child lying in a manger. He comes to us now, in our own day, through the power of grace and in the most Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. And He will come to us again, in glory, at the end of time. The season of Advent isn’t just about preparing for Christmas, it’s about getting over our fear of darkness and sin and coming to realize how utterly obsessed God is with us that He advents, that He comes to us as He does. This is why Saint Augustine calls Him the “Hound of Heaven,” – the God of the universe, of all creation, can’t leave us alone. Like the sun itching to make its presence known in a dark world, God wants nothing more than to make His presence known in our midst. He comes to us, so truly and so really, dispelling the night with the light of His radiance, and reveals Himself to us. He shakes us out of slumber and begs us to see how much He loves us. When we become awake to this awesome mystery, free from the fear that once bound us, we can then begin the great work of loving Him in return. This is what Advent is all about…preparing ourselves to become as obsessed with God as He is with us.
Four weeks from now this beautiful Cathedral will be bedecked with Christmas glory…lights and evergreens and flowers will abound. The Christ Child will be placed in His manger and we’ll all sing the carols we know and love. But behind all of the trappings of Christmas, remember the mystery of God’s absolute, infinite, reckless, obsessive love for you. Take the next four weeks, plunge yourself into the silent twilight of Advent and await the dawn of Christmas morning by learning how to love Him as He loves you. Meditate on the Scriptures…come to Mass more frequently…go to Confession and receive Holy Communion. Let His light fill your mind, His grace fill your soul, and His love fill your heart. This is what it means to be prepared for His coming. This is why the Church gives us this beautiful season.
In our Collect – our opening prayer – today, we prayed that God would grant us, His faithful, the resolve to run forth to meet His Christ with righteous deeds at His coming. May this prayer govern our lives for the next four weeks. The Son of God is coming to us…let us leave everything else behind, every bit of sin, of despair, and of fear, and, with reckless abandonment, run towards Him.