….In this early part of the season of Advent the Church has us focus our attention on Christ’s second coming, when he will return in glory at the consummation of all history to judge the living and the dead….

The problem is, all too often we get easily distracted by things that are passing away, and so fail to pay attention to the things that last forever, losing our focus on what will last into eternity. We are not unlike our ancestors in the faith at the time of the prophet Isaiah. We heard from him in the first reading, a prayer he made to the God of Israel right after the people had returned from exile. During the time of exile, while they were away from their homeland and living among foreigners, they lost their religious practice, they began to blend in with the pagan peoples around them, becoming lazy and neglectful of their God. Aren’t we the same? How many people have not returned to religious practice since we were in exile during the time of the Covid lockdowns? How many of us for far too long have been negligent of the devotion we owe to our God who loves us and saves us from sin?

Yes, there is darkness all over the world. But of different types. We are blessed to be spared the physical violence perpetrated on innocent citizens and especially on Christians in so many other parts of the world. But perhaps this presents to us an even greater, albeit more subtle, temptation to abandon the practice of the faith. Perhaps we have it too easy, and so can become lazy and complacent, just like Isaiah’s co-religionists. No matter what form that darkness takes, however, the cause is always the same: rejecting God’s design and replacing it with our own….

From homily given First Sunday of Advent – the Archdiocese of San Francisco