First Sunday In Advent

ImageJesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,  he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.  So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

You have a product to sell and you consider the ways to get potential buyer’s attention.  You may not think that religion is not a product but it is.  Faith, however, is not a product except it’s the product of your development, exploration, risks and personal discoveries and then normally lived and celebrated within a product called religion.

You discover the best way to set your product above any other is to use fear.  What a great seller fear is.  Your advertisement begins with a fearful proposition and then your product takes that fear away.  And, all for only $19.95, only if you act now.  This offer expires soon, just as we will.

Fear.  Insurance companies lives off of it, and how many warranties and guaranties have been sold without any loss from the merchant’s wallet.  We buy it.  We fall for it.  If we didn’t buy, they wouldn’t sell it.  That bears repeating, if we didn’t buy it, they wouldn’t sell it.  Now.  How about selling something that can’t be proven?  What a market share we’ll enjoy.  We can sell it without proving one inch.  It just is because we say that it is.

And so enters the great realm of religion.  “Can’t prove it, but you need it.”  “We’ll fear them into compliance.”

We know from our own experience what fear yields.  Fear yields nothing.  Fear freezes you in place.  You’re unable to think clearly because this thing looms over you.  You’re immobile to make choices because no choices lie before you.  You’re scared.

The First Sunday of Advent offers us a fear-filled reading that leaves us wanting to purchase whatever can keep us from pending calamity.  The reading can’t be proven and we’re not even sure if Jesus even said those words but they are given to us this first Sunday beginning the Church’s most glorious preparation period toward its glorious beginning, the birth of Jesus.

I don’t know about you but I love Advent.  Advent is never four weeks in my calendar but it is my life’s calendar.  Life is always about preparation.  Preparation for something of which I know nothing about.  I only have an inkling of it and it doesn’t include the feeling of fear.

I don’t need a Catholic Church’s insurance policy based on my worthlessness, smallness or insignificance.  I’ll put and invest my money in an unknown future that honors my creation by a loving Creator and then will one day weigh me with all my good and all my bad.

You can all begin this sacred season of Advent “moaning and weeping in this vale of tears.”  I, however, will be loving and enjoying and savoring the Advent of these four weeks that gives me a sample and clue about my whole life.

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. He is associate pastor of partnering parishes, Christ King and St. Bernard parishes in Wauwatosa, WI.
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