November 29: First Sunday of Advent Year C
Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thess 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28,34-36
On this First Sunday of the Advent Season, we begin a new liturgical year. During the next four weeks, the Sunday readings will focus our attention on preparation and waiting. Some years ago there was some breaking news on TV that to me seems to exemplify preparation. The news was about a man in Memphis, Tennessee who accidentally walked into a store during a robbery. The gunman pointed his pistol at him and ordered him to hand over all his money. The man responded, “Go ahead and shoot. I just been to Mass and took communion.” The robber was confused by that reaction, and the man walked away. I have to admit that I probably would have handed over my money, but I do admire that man’s courage – and above all his apparent readiness to meet the Lord. That is what Jesus tells us today. “The great day will suddenly close on you like a trap. So be on the watch.” In the First Reading, the prophet Jeremiah tells us that during the days of the Old Testament, the Lord God repeatedly made promises with Abraham and to his descendants to bless them with many descendants and prosperity. God also promised that a righteous Branch would spring up from the descendants of King David, the righteous one executing justice and righteousness in the land. The prophet tells the people that they would have a just king and his policies would bring security to the kingdom and bring them to the right relationship with God.
The word Advent comes from the Latin word “advenire” = to come or coming. It is therefore a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord and Savior. We know how anxious we can be while waiting for an important guest. Parents know how anxious they can be while waiting for the arrival of a new baby. The homecoming of a loved one or a member of the family similarly creates an occasion for anxiety while waiting for his return after deployment overseas. Advent is therefore a season of preparation and waiting for the coming of our Savior. The second reading of this Sunday centers on spiritual preparation. Here Paul urges us to make more progress in our Christian life, “the life that God wants”. Our waiting is based on the promise that our Saviour will surely come. Promises can be a source of hope and forward looking in life. They can inject a sense of purpose and meaning in our daily life. They can also enable us to endure present hardships and trials with the hope that these will come to an end. In the Gospel, Jesus challenges us to be on our guard so our hearts are not weighed down with worldly vices and the worries of this life, so the day of the Lord will not catch us unexpectedly, unprepared. No one knows when the end will come. We should be prepared at all times. This is a time of urgency and hence there is little time for complacency. What message do we take home? 1) Jesus in the Gospel challenges us to be on guard and like the man in the story to be prepared spiritually because our liberation is at hand. 2) Advent is an invitation to prepare a place in our hearts for the Lord’s coming. 3) If we truly believe that Christ is coming anew, we will strive to center our lives on Christ through prayer life, asking the Lord to help us to make greater progress in our journey to holiness that we may be in a state of grace when Christ comes.
©2009 John S Mbinda