FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Is 2:1-5 The Lord will gather the nations into eternal peace in the kingdom of God
Ps 122 Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord
Rm 13:11-14 Our salvation is near
Mt 24:37-44 Stay awake! that you may be prepared.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST/ DON’T MISS THE BOAT
Keep your eyes on the skies. That’s the message of Christ to the disciples. Boy Scouts say , “Be prepared.” Saint Paul puts it more directly: “Wake up!—and don’t miss the boat.”
The season of Advent, which we now enter, is a time to prepare for the birth of the Messiah, but also for us make ready for his glorious return at the end of time. Which time? Real time? Kick-off time? Or Kairos time? Kairos is a Greek term used to describe the perfect moment during which something important happens. When Christ was born on Christmas he was in the right place at the right time as was preordained by the Father. When he will come again nobody knows, not even Jesus, though he is confident that it will happen according to the will of God. So should we be.
Advent—four weeks long—exists to prepare the way of the Lord, but also to make ready for his continual presence in our lives. Liturgy exists to keep the memory of Jesus alive. So when the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent, she relives the ancient expectancy of the Messiah; by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, we renew our desire for his second coming (CCC No524). And vice versa.
Advent must not be overlooked. It is an important preparatory period in its own right; like Lent, a period of fasting, charity, and prayer. We believe in the birth of Jesus then we must also believe in the Parousia. Jesus says what he means and he means what he says. As to the disciples so now to us: “You, too, must also be prepared, for at an hour that you do not expect, the Son of man will return” (Mt 24:44).
The birth of Jesus is familiar: we see the crèche on lawns and in church—sometimes still outside schools and town halls—and it reminds us of ‘the reason for the season.’
When it comes to the Parousia (Greek for the Second Coming) it takes imagination, reaching into hearts filled with hope and wonder to help us understand the full meaning of Christ’s message: to deliver us from evil and into the Kingdom of God. The Jesus depicted in Matthew’s gospel proclaims the ‘great and terrible day’ when that will happen.
As it was in the days of the Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day when Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So it will be also at the coming of the Son of Man. (Mt 24:40)
According to Saint Paul those who are saved have heeded Jesus’s warning to “stay awake”; they focused on their spiritual lives instead of going overboard for toys and tools and appliances at Wal-Mart, Target, or Best Buy. It isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it—that is, unless you need a concussion. Our un-holiday season causes many inside and outside the church to lose sight of the ‘reason for the season.’ Shootings/lootings/ fistfights. Pictures at 11. As the saying goes, “You can’t turn back the Titanic.”
But it’s not too late to board the ark. To the prophet Isaiah deliverance from such chaos means that all nations would be as one family in the house of God. All aboard.
In ancient days water symbolized the abyss, which had the power to destroy. The people in Noah’s day of which Jesus preaches feared the abyss because they had no mastery over it—only God controlled the earth, the wind, the water, and the fire. Those who missed the boat and drowned in the flood drew the wrong conclusions regarding the end times. They watched Noah constructing the ark beneath clear skies and ridiculed him but their laughter turned to terror when they realized that they missed the life boat and they had no life preservers. They cared more about the things of this world than they believed in the promise of God for salvation.
Today on this first Sunday of Advent we can be confident in the promise of God for the salvation of all time, our time and all who went before us and those yet to come. To believe in the Second Coming can be like sailing into uncharted waters—either full steam ahead or half steam (the choice is ours)— but the end of the voyage lies just beyond the rainbow.
Be prepared. Don’t miss the boat, a real pleasure cruise with a great buffet but no more gambling. Soon dry land will appear but don’t forget a life jacket and keep your eyes on the sky.
QUOD SCRIPSI SCRIPSI