Readings: Jer 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28,34-36
Preparation, waiting and expectation are the key words that help to focus on the message of this First Sunday of the Advent Season, as we begin the new liturgical year. During the next four weeks, the Sunday readings will focus our attention on preparation, waiting and expectation. Some years ago there was some breaking news on TV that to me would be a good example of 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 Confession and Mass and took Holy Communion.” The robber was confused by that reaction, and the man walked away safely. I tell this story because it helps to understand the importance of being ready always 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 in the past the Lord God repeatedly made promises with Abraham and his descendants to bless them with many descendants and prosperity. God also promised that a righteous Branch would spring up from the line of King David. The prophet tells the people that they would have a just king and his policies would bring security to the kingdom and lead them to right relationship with God.
The word Advent comes from the Latin word “advenire” = to come or the coming. It is therefore a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord and Saviour. 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 Saviour. The second reading of this Sunday centres 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 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 that our hearts are not weighed down by worldly vices and the worries of this life. He urges us to be ready, so that day of the Lord will not catch us unexpectedly, unprepared. No one knows when the end will come. Therefore we should be prepared at all times. This is a time of urgency and hence there is little time for complacency. So what is the take away message? 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 centre our lives on Christ through prayer life, asking the Lord to help us to make greater progress on the journey towards our extraordinary mission.
©2015 John S Mbinda