First Sunday of Advent, December 1
As You and I Look Forward to the Awesome and Wondrous Event When Christ Will Come Again, Let Us Look Up and Raise Our Heads, for Our Redemption Is at Hand!
Many Christian churches in both the East and West, since the early centuries of our faith, have marked special seasons to celebrate the central truths of Christianity.
The Advent season, which precedes Christmas and Epiphany, reminds us that we are a pilgrim people, aliens and exiles in this age in our life here on Earth – a people who long for our true home with God in Heaven, and who await, with joyful hope, for the return of our Lord in all His glory, in order to bring all creation to fulfillment.
We read today from Paul’s Letter to the Romans, “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand.”
Today, on this First Sunday of Advent at the beginning of a new Liturgical Year, Paul is cautioning his readers and each one of us to be alert as to our conduct, especially since not one of us knows the hour nor the day when our Lord will call us to make an accounting of our life. And Paul advises us further, “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day.”
Paul is advising us not to succumb to the desires of the flesh, in whatever form these desires may take – be it greed, fame, fortune, sexual immorality, or any other number of vices which harm our relationship with God and separate us from His Love.
For, in the fullness of time according to the Heart and Mind of Almighty God, when it becomes our time to stand before the Judgment Seat of Divine Justice, it is the love we lived or did not live in the here and now, it is our works – be they good or bad – which become either our witnesses to a life filled with faithfulness to Christ, or our accusers to a life which is darkened by faithlessness and infidelity to all that our Lord has asked of us.
And we hear the same message in today’s Gospel, for Our Lord is alerting us to some of the events which shall take place and precede His Second Coming, which we call the Parousia. And Jesus says, “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Yet, out of God’s inexpressible Love which He has for each of His children, He balances His words and prophecies of warning with words and prophecies of hope. For we find within our First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah a prophecy of hope, a vision of the future in which the Messianic Kingdom – the Kingdom of Christ – will be, in all its fullness, a Kingdom of peace, a Kingdom in which all peoples will live together in harmony and love –
“He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”
The fulfillment of God’s promises to His children, which we read about in today’s Scripture, must of course begin with the advent of His First Coming, when the Eternal Word took flesh upon Himself, setting aside the awesome nature of His Divinity, so that He may become one like us, like you and me, in all things, except sin.
This Jesus, whom we have come to know and believe as the prophesied Messiah, the Eternal Son of God, Divine Wisdom and Mercy Incarnate, reaches out to us – in the past, present and future – to fill our hearts with hope – the hope in knowing and believing that, in the midst of the trials, difficulties and crosses which you and I bear in this life, we truly have a God who understands our weaknesses and the tears we shed.
We truly have a God who has always been at the side of His children – always loving us, always embracing us – giving us the strength He knows that we need to endure the life that we travel regularly through this vale of tears in which we find ourselves each day.
And Jesus’ First Coming, which we celebrate on Christmas Day – a birth in a manger to teach us that God places great value on the virtue of humility – is intimately and inextricably tied to His Second Coming, in which we shall see Him in all His glory, bringing to perfection, bringing to completion God’s Kingdom on Earth – a Kingdom in which each of us, as a faithful child, is a citizen by virtue of our Baptism into the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
God’s Kingdom on Earth today is imperfect and incomplete, for it is composed of human beings who are flawed and imperfect, due to our inherent sinful nature. Yet, in spite of this, God calls each of us to enter into His Divine life, into His Mystical Body – for Christ Himself is the visible Presence of God’s Kingdom in our midst.
Christ came the first time to teach us, His children of all the generations that would follow, of God’s Divine Love and Mercy. And He willingly embraced the Cross, so that we may be reconciled to His Father and ours for all eternity. When Christ comes again, His glory will fully reveal and manifest the eternal perfection and splendor of His Kingdom, for human history and all creation will finally achieve its ultimate fulfillment!
Jesus tells us to “stay awake” and to “be prepared”, especially in the midst of the evils and temptations which lead to the many disorders which we find in our world today – for it is only in Jesus Christ where our true hope resides. It is only His very Presence in our hearts and souls which strengthens us during the many trials and tribulations which we face throughout our lifetime.
And it is this faith of ours, which we hold so dear to our hearts, which transforms us and gives us hope, as you and I look forward to celebrating His First Coming, one in which He embraced the virtue of humility; and it is this faith in Jesus Christ which guides both you and me into looking forward to the awesome and wondrous event when Christ will come again, only this time in the fullness of His glory to make all things new!
As you and I enter into this Advent season, may our hearts be filled with joy, believing and realizing that, just as our Lord’s First Coming was an act of God’s Love for each of us, so, too, shall His Second Coming be a manifestation of the fulfillment of all His promises – promises made to each of us, His children, out of Divine Love!
“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, look up and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “…you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand…Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day.” (Romans 13:11-12)
- “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Matthew 24:42, 44)
- “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
- “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” (Isaiah 2:4)
- “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
- “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, look up and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:27-28)
Prayer for the Day
“Heavenly Father, All-Powerful God,
Our hearts desire the warmth of Your Love
and our minds are searching for the Light of Your Word.
Increase our longing for Christ our Savior
and give us the strength to grow in unselfish love
and the will for doing good here on Earth.
“May the dawn of the coming of Your Son, Jesus Christ,
find within us a welcoming heart and
an eagerness to rejoice in His Presence,
that we may be found worthy to eternally live at His side
in the home which You have prepared for us
in Your Heavenly Kingdom from all eternity,
where He lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. Amen.”cf. Liturgy of the Hours (First Sunday of Advent Prayer)