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First Sunday of Advent
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand. Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the beginning of this Advent season. Since Advent is a time of expectation, I know that I will have to remain vigilant and prayerful if I want to live it well. So once again I ask for your grace; teach me to look beyond this passing world to your imminent coming.
- Waiting: As we begin this season of waiting, it is not superfluous to ask ourselves what we are waiting for. Are we waiting for something, or perhaps for someone? Are we waiting at all, or have we dropped all expectations in disillusionment caused by past disappointments? Every child knows that Advent is a season of preparation, but what is often forgotten is that Advent also reminds us of Christ’s second coming at the end of time. That is why we have today’s Gospel, which invites us to put aside thoughts of Christmas for now and soberly reflect on our final days.
- The Second Coming: Today’s Gospel can be mystifying but the Catechism 671 might illuminate our hearts as we reflect on Jesus’ words: “Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled ‘with power and great glory’ by the King’s return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover.” It is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church that Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time to preside over the Last Judgment. We await this second coming, or Advent of our King, with vigilance and confidence in his victory. If we live in love as God’s sons and daughters, we need not fear. We will be able to “stand erect and raise our heads because our redemption is at hand.” This truth is what fills the liturgical season of Advent with joy.
- Waiting in Earnest: We know that this world is not perfect, that we live in a valley of tears. We are a pilgrim Church. But we do not wait alone. Our Lord accompanies us. CCC 671 continues: “Until everything is subject to him, ‘until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.’ That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him: Maranatha! ‘Our Lord, come!’” Thanks be to God we have the sacraments–and especially the Eucharist–to nourish us for the journey to Heaven as we vigilantly await Jesus’ coming.
Conversing with Christ: Come, Lord Jesus; do not delay. Life without you is no life at all. We prepare our hearts for your coming at Christmas and your coming at the end of time. Accept our prayer today and send your Holy Spirit into our hearts to teach us to say “Maranatha!”
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take some time to reflect on, and then write down, my hopes and expectations for this Advent season.
For Further Reflection: Take up the Catechism and read 668-682, which constitute Article 7, entitled “From Thence He Will Come Again to Judge the Living and the Dead.”
Written by Deacon Erik Burckel, LC.