Jer 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36
Today we enter into the season of Advent, the first season of the “Liturgical Calendar” of the Church. It is quite ironic that on the first day of the Church Calendar, the gospel talks about the end of the world. In opening a new liturgical year, the Church immediately gives us an idea of what is going to happen at the end of time. Perhaps, this is her way of setting our sights on our goal so that we can put our priorities right within the year.
The Advent season comprises of four weeks, an opportunity given to us by the Church to reflect on the “comings” of Christ into our lives. The Lord would come to us in three different ways and we are called to prepare ourselves at all times to meet him.
First, we prepare to celebrate the birth anniversary of the Lord's birth this coming Christmas. We recall that great event during which the “Word became flesh” and try to understand the messages attached to it.
Second, we need to be consistently vigilant for Christ' second coming at the end of time when he will come down from heaven full of glory and power. This is what the gospel today portrays. The end of time is something that would easily terrify us. Nonetheless, the gospel assures us that the final day is our victory and, therefore, should not frighten us. Rather, it should inspire us to bring back moral order into our life in preparation for the day of judgment.
And third, we keep ourselves ready to receive Christ everyday of our life. Jesus dwells in our hearts every time we do good for God and for others. In our day-to-day prayers, let us invite the Lord to enter into our hearts, homes and communities. Through our daily acts of mercy and love, we make ourselves confident to meet Christ face to face.
The first coming of Christ was surrounded with mystery. The Son of God was conceived in the womb of a simple and lowly woman and was born in a manger. He was visited by poor shepherds and was adored by three wise men. Many in Israel did not expect the Messiah to come in such time and manner. Thus, God caught them off-guard and unprepared.
Most likely, the second coming of Christ would also be very mysterious. It would come like a thief in the night. And if we are not vigilant, God will also find us not ready, just like the people of Israel during the first Christmas. What are we to do then? The gospel advices: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catches you like a trap.” Hence, this is the first call of Advent: Prepare yourself for the Lord's coming by following the right path, leaving sin behind, and increasing love for one another.
The prayer of Saint Paul in the second reading is appropriate: 'May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”