First Sunday of Advent

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”

(long silence after reading the gospel. I look at my watch and slowly clean my glasses.)

complaining beautiful young blond woman holding a clockI’ll begin in a moment. Or, will I start in a while? Or, how about shortly, That’s it. I’ll start the sermon shortly, or is the word I want, “soon?”

And, how long is a moment?

Or have I begun it already? And, how long is a moment? It’s my favorite word when time suddenly becomes timeless. And, how many moments are there in 60 seconds? (“The doctor will be with you in a moment,” “Your call is very important, that’s why you’re listening to a recording and ‘on hold’ listening to elevator music, but in a moment…,”)

You’ll need to wait a while longer before I make my point to you this afternoon. This may call for some patience on your part. Perhaps. Choose to read the Sunday bulletin before I get to the good spiritual stuff.

“It’ll take two weeks to complete, ma’am.”

The season of Advent is four weeks long, why four I don’t know. Why not two weeks like the carpenter tells you when he appraises your home project. It’s always, “It’ll take two weeks to complete, ma’am.” If you’re in hospice, the magical time frame is six months. If you survive 181 days plus one day, then another six months is added to your lottery-type life expectancy. Medical test results? Medicare response? “Two weeks.

My Sunday point will unfold soon, as in any time now. It’ll be but a brief moment. Why we need an adjective added to “moment?” I have no idea because a moment contains no time.

So, which one is it, Jesus?

Even Jesus says that “I am with you for awhile, but I will return.” He also says, “I am with you always, until the end of time.” So, which one is it?

The word is “today.”

Here’s a word I haven’t used yet, and it’s the point of my painstakingly time-consuming sermon, so please put the bulletin down. The word is “today.” It’s the perfectly timed word because it’s the only day, the only time, we have. We don’t wait for December 25 and Jesus’ birth because Jesus lives within us this very day. We honor December 25 but we live, breath, and move only this day. (I’m discovering that retired people know this better than the rest of us. The “there-so-no-time” executive says, “Let’s have lunch sometime next month,” The retired gal says to her friend, “How about this afternoon?”)

The English Mass is a means to end.
This Mass is not the end.

I was talking to friends about the Latin Mass versus the current English Mass, and it hit me. The Latin Mass was a strictly timed experience and was an end unto itself. You attended, watched, got communion, went home. You didn’t know what was going on, but hoped it would help you in your life. (Why you thought words you didn’t understand somehow helpsed you, is beyond me.) The English Mass, however, is a means to end. This Mass is not the end. Our prayer today is not the “this is it” moment but this Mass today erases easy words like, “tomorrow,” “someday,” “soon,” and “two weeks.” This Mass says “go forth” and duplicate what’s witnessed here – church words like mercy, forgiveness, community, and peace – and make those words your words in your thoughts, words, and deeds – but please, “Don’t delay, do it today. This offer will not last forever.”)

That’s Advent, folks. Advent is telling us to stop waiting and to forget about tomorrow’s promises and yesterday’s regrets. We only have “today,” (as in, “now”) to encourage the lives of others and inspire our own. We only have “now” to know that Jesus is alive and well in this parish community and in our acknowleding and reaching out to those less fortunate than ourselves. We only have this known moment to know of God’s welcoming embrace for us. It’s an embrace that affects not only ourselves but every, single person we meet.

This sermon is about to end – any time now.

Oh, wait! I think I said all the good spiritual stuff. My time is up!

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available on
“Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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