First Sunday of AdventToday is the First Sunday of Advent. As we both celebrate and anticipate the Lord's Advent, we should be reminded that as we prepare to comemorate the Lord's birth, His second Advent is a reality that will occur and we should live each y as if it could be the last day. We begin a new Year of Grace with the realization that it is purely by the grace of God that we live, breathe, and have our being.
It is quite common during the Advent Season in many years to hear readings that focus on John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ. While I am certain we will hear from the Lord's cousin at some point in this year's Gospel Readings for Advent (next Sunday in fact)-this Sunday the Lord speaks to us quite directly about His return:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves; Men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; And then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And he spoke to them in a similitude. See the fig tree, and all the trees: When they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; So you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen, I say to you, this generation shall not pass away, till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. And take heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly. For as a snare shall it come upon all that sit upon the face of the whole earth. Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are to come, and to stand before the Son of man.
I find it more than a bit timely that the Church chooses this reading in this cycle for the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Liturgical Year 2007. Of course no one knows the day or hour of Our Lord's return, and there have been many a man and woman in our age to say "Jesus is coming soon, the signs are here," and yet the Lord is not here just yet.
The Lord Jesus is indeed coming soon and all the signs that he spoke about in the scriptures are present that would point to that reality. We somehow continue to try and place God in human timeframes, and that can't be done-God is everlasting, and in eternity there is no concept of time as we know it. Centuries pass by as a blink of God's eye-so when the Lord said "surely I come quickly" He wasn't kidding...if He were to return today, 2,000 years is awfully quick to Him. As believers we need to get it through our head that God does not operate on our human timescale. That said, the signs are indeed here and the Lord will return very soon-just recall that God's timing of what constitutes "soon' and "quickly" is nothing like our own.
Advent is also a good time to reflect on our sinfulness, our failings, and our general unworthiness to receive the Lord. In this respect, St. Paul and I have a lot in common. Paul said that he was "chief among sinners," and I say the same. In this vein, I speak with no hypocrisy. My wife often admits to me that she wonders about what I say in the confessional because when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, my confessions are notoriously longer than hers. I am a Christian, and I love the Lord, I love the Saints, I love Our Lady-but I am far from perfect, though I strive every day for it, I fall short often enough. Advent is a good time to remember that we very often fall short of doing what is right, of living the kind of life on a daily and hourly basis that the Lord expects of us, and that the Lord came as a Man so that we could be reconciled to God in spite of ourselves.
Labels: Holy Mother Church