Is 2:1-5; Rom 13: 11-14; Mt 24:37-44
Three friends die in a car accident; they go to heaven to an orientation. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning upon you, what would you like to hear them say about you? The first guy says, “I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor of my time, and a great family man.” The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher who made a huge difference in the lives of children.” The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say…LOOK, HE’S MOVING!!
The readings in the early Sundays of Advent always carry forward the “end of the world” theme from the last Sundays of the previous year, the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time and the Feast of Christ the King, the 34th and final Sunday of the Liturgical year. This links each ending year with the one following it. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the ‘Sunday of Hope’ in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom God has promised to save and redeem His people.
Today we begin our yearly re-enactment of the drama of our salvation, starting with the mystery of the Incarnation (Christmas) and culminating in the celebration of Christ’s ultimate victory (Christ the King). It is our yearly pilgrimage through the scenes and events of our history of salvation. Advent is a time for looking both backward and forward. We look backward as we prepare to celebrate the historical birth of Jesus. At the same time, we look forward to his Second Coming, as we prepare ourselves to welcome him into all areas of our lives during the Advent season.
In the Eucharistic Acclamation we profess our faith in Jesus’ Second Coming: “We proclaim Your Death, O Lord, and profess Your Resurrection until You come again”; and in the Creed we proclaim our belief that “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We see the traditional signs of Advent in our Church: violet vestments and the Advent wreath. We light a candle on this wreath each Sunday until all four are lit. These signs remind us that we are waiting for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives in love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah describes his vision of all nations making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, affirming their faith in the one true God. In the second reading Paul exhorts the Roman Christian community to get ready to meet Jesus in his Second Coming by discharging their duties properly, and by freeing themselves from their former pagan tendencies toward excessive drinking, sexual promiscuity, jealousy and rivalry. We, too, are challenged to make spiritual preparations for Christ’s birth in our lives.
In today’s Gospel Jesus warns us of the urgency of vigilant preparation on our part that we may meet him as the judge both at the end of our lives on earth and on the day of the Last Judgment when he comes in his glory. Jesus reminds us of how the unrepentant and ill-prepared evil people were destroyed by the flood in the time of Noah and how a thief would break in and plunder the precious belongings of an ill-prepared house owner. Using the additional examples of ancient way of arrest and punishment of a culprit without notice by a king and of forceful recruitment to military service by ancient rulers, Jesus repeats his warning for us to be vigilant and well-prepared all the time, doing the will of God by loving others.
How to be alert and watchful in the spirit of today’s Gospel. Every morning when we get up, let us pray, “Lord, show me someone today with whom I may share your love, mercy and forgiveness.” Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “Whatever you do in your family, for your children, for your husband, for your wife, you do for Jesus.” Every night when we go to bed, let us ask ourselves, “Where have I found Christ today?” The answer will be God’s Advent gift to us that day. By being alert and watchful, we’ll be getting an extra gift: Christ himself. There is a saying about being saved which goes back to St. Thomas Aquinas: “Without God, I can’t. Without me, he won’t”.