Bishop Anthony B. Taylor delivered this homily Dec. 9 for Lessons and Carols at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock.
Last Sunday we began another Advent, a time of expectation, waiting for the arrival of our Savior. The word “ad-vent” comes from Latin; “ad” means “until” and “vent” means “he comes,” so “until he comes.”
But there is a problem: There are two comings of Christ. His humble coming on Christmas and his glorious coming at the end of the world. Instead of saying the season of Advent, wouldn’t it be better to say the season of the Advents? And even more so because there aren’t just two Comings, there are three.
Two weeks ago one liturgical year ended with the feast of Christ the King and another one began last Sunday with a final glance forward to the day when what we celebrate on Christ the King is fully manifest on the day of his Second Coming. And then now today we turn our gaze backward toward his First Coming on Christmas.
So the first Sunday of Advent prepares us for his Second Coming and the second Sunday prepares us for his First Coming. And both prepare us for his Third Coming.
And when is his Third Coming? Right now.
Have you ever seen that picture of Jesus knocking on a door that has no handle? It represents Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “Here I stand knocking at the door; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me.” The door has no handle on the outside because it can only be opened from within.
Christ knocks at the door of your heart, but you’re the one who has to open it. That’s his Third Coming. Not only in the past nor only in the future, but also now, today.
Advent is not just a time of waiting; it’s also a time of preparation. As we see in the Scriptures, John the Baptist prepared the First Coming of Jesus and the prophecies of the end of the world prepare us for his Second Coming, but only you can prepare yourself for his Third Coming. There’s no one else who can open for him the door to your heart.
Sure, we can offer you resources and help, encourage you and pray for you. Sure, the good example of the saints is there to inspire you and soften your heart, but it won’t open until you yourself take hold of that knob with your very own hand and open that door yourself, to receive him into own heart.
This time of the Advents is also for this. Indeed, it is principally for this because if you don’t open your heart to him now, it won’t do you any good to commemorate his First Coming because without him inside you now, you are not yet ready for his Second and definitive Coming on the last day.
There are three Advents because Christ is King not only of all places but also of all times: the past — Christmas; the future — the end of the world; and the present — and his coming in the present is the most important of the three.
In fact, it is to open us up to his Third Coming in the present time — it is precisely to make this happen — that we celebrate liturgically the Advent of this First and Second Comings.
Jesus is at the door and is knocking. Listen to his voice, grab that knob and open the door, receive him into your heart now and thus also on Christmas and for always, until his Second Coming on the last day.
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