Sunday Sermon for November 28, 2010, the First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Readings: Is 2:1-5; Rom 13:11-14; Mt 24:37-44

In the Gospel reading our Lord tells us to stay awake because we do not know the hour in which He will appear. In the second reading St. Paul tells us that it is the hour for us to wake from sleep because the night is far spent and the day draws near. For this reason St. Paul tells us to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. In this manner he mentions various points of morality: drunkenness, lust, rivalry, and jealousy. Of course, many more things could be added to this list.

If we are to put on the armor of light, we need to wonder what that is. In the first reading we are told about walking in the light of the Lord and the context makes it clear that this is about truth. The nations will be drawn to the house of God and they will seek instruction. Such instruction could only be regarding the Truth, Who is Jesus Christ, and the teachings of the Church. Jesus is the light Who came into the world, but men preferred the darkness to the light. That was 2000 years ago; things have not changed.

It is more imperative now than ever to put on the armor of light, that is, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the desires of the flesh, as St. Paul instructs us. We know that if we start giving in to the desires of the flesh we will soon try to justify such actions. Justifying one sin leads to a weakening of the will and a darkening of the mind with regard to the areas of sin that are associated with the one we have already justified. This will lead us to give in to other things, try to justify them and become further weakened.

In a society which has chosen darkness and which, almost daily, seems to be making provisions for various perversions through activist judges, political correctness and a rejection of the truth, it is all the more necessary to live in the light. We must make a conscious effort to do this. If we like to follow or if we like to “go along to get along” we are going to be swept up in the tide that is going the wrong direction. We may think that this will help keep us away from conflict, but as we see in the first reading, peace will only come when people walk according to the truth.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, but He came, according to His own words, to bring not peace but division. For those who are united with Him in prayer and in the full acceptance of the whole truth as the Church teaches it, there is peace. This peace, however, is an internal peace, because if you are united with Christ you will be hated and rejected by many. There will be little external peace because the truth causes division. A person is either united to the truth or separated from it; when it comes to truth, there is no in between.

The Church is eminently clear on the teachings regarding the Eucharist, marriage, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, cloning, assisted suicide, etc. There are many who reject these basic teachings, but that does not change or compromise the truth. The truth is still the truth, even if no one wants to believe it. One of the wonderful things about being Catholic is that we can look to the objective teachings of the Church rather than trying to come up with some “truth” of my own. A former Pastor of mine had a saying that is very apropos in this context: you know that when you’re right, you know you can’t be wrong.

If something is my own opinion or my own idea than I could be completely off base. But when something is the teaching of Jesus, either directly or through His Church, then it is objective and absolutely true. Having such confidence, we can have peace. As Isaiah makes clear, when everyone accepts the truth, our weapons of war can be converted to implements of peace. The war being waged presently is a spiritual one and we need spiritual armor to fight it. In case you have not noticed, the thief is trying to break into your house. Jesus told us that if we knew when that was happening we would stay awake. Many have not; lulled to sleep through the TV, the internet, and so many other means, the enemy has broken in and wreaked havoc on their souls. He wants your soul too; stay awake, put off the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light, make no provision for the desires of the flesh, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit