The 1st Sunday of Advent: Luke 21:25-36
Advent is a season of hope and expectation. We are invited to prepare joyfully for the coming of Christ. He comes in history (his conception and birth), in mystery (through the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist), and in majesty (at the Last Day).
In the first weeks of Advent the stress is on this third coming in majesty. Hence today’s gospel which we have already prayed with in recent days. The old liturgical year ended, and the new one has begun, with our calling to mind the Lord’s final coming at the end of time. We look forward to it with happy anticipation, not with fear.
Advent is a time of expectation. We joyfully prepare for the great feast of Christ’s birth. However, Advent is also a time of preparation for the second coming of Jesus. The end of the world may not come in my lifetime, but my death will bring the end of my engagement with it. So I need to be ready when Jesus comes for me. How do we understand the signs of our own times? What is our response?
Apocalyptic visions no longer move me, Lord. But I hear your warning, that I do not let my heart be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life. The mother of dissipation is not joy but joylessness. In you, Lord, I find the basis of my peace, enabling me to stand up and raise my head. Jesus is using traditional Jewish symbolism to describe what will happen when God’s final judgment occurs. He says that people “will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud.” The cloud is a symbol for God’s presence. Jesus’ message bursts with hope and confidence because, unlike those who have reason to fear his coming, Jesus’ followers will be able to hold their heads high because their liberation is at hand. Jesus urges me to be on guard so that my heart is not weighed down by the worries of life. What are the worries and cares of life that weigh me down today? As I prepare for a conversation with Jesus, can I bring my worries and cares to him in prayer?
We do not know when the end of time will take place. What is certain is that our own lives will one day come to an end. If I were to be called from this life today, to stand before the Son of Man, would he be able to say to me, “well done, good and faithful servant”?