Gospel Matthew 24: 37-44
We ended the Church Year with readings about the Second Coming of the Lord, and as we begin the new Church Year with the First Sunday of Advent we hear a similar message, “For at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” The emphasis, however, is different, rather than focus on the final judgement the readings call us to wake up and prepare with joy for the Lord’s presence. The preface for the first two weeks of Advent speaks of the Two Comings of Christ; the first coming when he took on flesh and was born into the world, and the second coming when he returns in Glory.
During Advent we call to mind how Christ has already been born into the world. The Nativity scenes, the Christmas Carols and Advent Prayers direct us to celebrate this birth. God’s gift of himself to us out of his love for us. Most of our Advent preparation directs us to the beautiful and simple birth of Jesus in the manger. This is our foundation for not losing sight that this baby is our Messiah and Savior. He suffered and died for our sins, and will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. The two words that sum up Advent are Joy and Glory. These call us to approach Advent as a time of joyful preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus two thousand years ago, and the glory in which he will return.
As we begin Advent let us put ourselves back in time and imagine what it was like for Mary and Joseph as they awaited the birth of Jesus. The faith of Mary to say yes to the angel at the Annunciation, and the Faith of Joseph to believe that Mary was indeed virtuous and faithful, and to accept the words of the angel in his dream. They believed, disregarding what the world might say, that God was acting in their lives calling them to be part of something mysterious and beautiful. Leading them to live chaste lives because of the awesome reality of the Annunciation. Where is our faith when we face difficult times? Our challenges are far less than those of Mary and Joseph, but to each of us the situations that challenge our faith are real and difficult. Mary and Joseph are models of faith. They accompany us on our journey of faith, even during the most trying times.
Look at Jesus, God, sitting at the right hand of the Father, who humbles himself to be born into the world and become like us in all things but sin. It takes a perfect love to act in such a perfectly humble way. A love and humility that can only be found in God, and yet we are the beneficiaries of it. How much do we appreciate this perfect love of God? How much do we realize how he humbled himself for our sake? These are questions that can fill us with humility as we stand with awe in the presence of God, to experience the incomprehensible love of God.
May we begin Advent by looking within ourselves and reflecting on our Faith, Humility, Glory and Awe, as well as how we respond to God’s love. This might mean stepping back for a week or two from the premature singing of Christmas Carols and decorating, so as to savor this season of preparation. This will hopefully lead us through the four weeks of Advent to a richer and deeper celebration of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and to joyful awaiting for his coming again in glory.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.