Every beginning of the Liturgical Year is a time we take resolutions for a new journey with the Lord. Like for the civil year, we define our goals and expectations. However, unlike the civil year, the liturgical year is a spiritual journey we embark on in the company of the Lord to grow in grace as we ask Him to help us in our resolve to strengthen our commitment to discipleship.
Today we are starting a new Church year as we begin again the liturgical season, we call Advent, which means Coming. However, although we are preparing to celebrate the coming into the world of our Savior, Jesus the Christ, we all need to be reminded that it is not just his coming as a little baby that we are preparing for. The time of Advent affords us the opportunity to appropriately prepare for the new adventure with the Lord. We are invited to prepare for the future coming of the Lord, for the establishment of his kingdom.
Today’s readings warn us about the risk of being caught up in the exhausting activities of the external preparation of the feasts that are in the horizon in front of us: the celebration of the historical birth of Jesus that seems to become a simple remembrance as well as the feasts of the end of the civil year, but with little emphasis on preparing for the second coming of the Lord.
To urge us to focus on his second coming, whenever it can be, Jesus insists on the importance for us to be ready. The examples of Noah’s ark and the robber are meant to impress on us that we better be prepared. In both examples Jesus tells us what happens to people when they are unprepared. The flood is instantly over people while they were in the midst of their everyday activities and caught by surprise. It was all over them before they knew it. In addition, like the robber who does not warn the victim, before breaking their house or business, this second coming will be on us at unexpected time. The season of Advent is therefore a time to remain vigilant and to focus on the real thing, that is to fix our eyes on the true preparation to which Jesus draws our attention: the kingdom of God. He says: “you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Thus, during this Advent season, I suggest we ask ourselves what we would do if somehow, we realized that Christ was to return to earth in his second coming before the end of this year. Perhaps we would, on one hand, spend a little more time in prayer, or reading the gospels, or going to confession, or coming to Holy Hour or morning Mass during the week or doing some charitable works. If can’t think of anything special to do, we could ask our Lord for a suggestion, then quietly wait for an answer. On another hand, we could think of the ways we may be a part in the preparation of the kingdom. For example, when we make a difference in the life of a brother or sister, when we are forgiven, or we forgive someone else, Christ’s kingdom of peace is in a small way touching our lives. When we do a kind act for a neighbor, a friend or relative, again, we sense Christ’s kingdom at work in the world.
As we strive deepen the meaning and purpose of Christmas in our life, let us continue to pray for one another and for our parish family.