Happy New Year everyone! Today we celebrate the beginning of a new year in our liturgical calendar. It is the beginning of a new cycle of prayers and scripture readings. We start this new year with the next four weeks preparing for the season of Christmas. This preparation time is termed the Season of Advent. What does the word “advent” mean? The word advent is described as “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” Synonyms of the word advent are arrival, appearance, emergence, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development, etc. What wonderful words used to describe the readings for today! These readings talk of the coming, and of the second coming, of Jesus Christ.
Our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah describes God telling us that he will fulfill his promise to the house of Israel. “I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This is the first coming of Jesus in Bethlehem. This is the coming for which we prepare during the next four weeks.
Our second reading from a letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, encourages us to become the embodiment of Jesus. It uses sentences like “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.” and “We ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God as in fact, you are doing, you should do so more and more.” As the first reading tells us that Jesus is coming and the Gospel talks to us of the second coming of Jesus, I feel that the second reading tell us of a third coming of sorts. This third coming is that of us doing more to live our lives through him, with him and in him. To live our lives to please God. To keep Him at the forefront of our thoughts, our decisions, our actions and our conversations, in order to improve our relationships with the people around us. This reading tells us to prepare internally for the two comings.
The Gospel from Luke greatly explains, somewhat sinisterly, of the second coming. It tells us “the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory”. It talks of “people fainting from fear and foreboding for what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” It continues to tell us to “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, so that day will not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.” But do not be afraid, this last line tells us to do as explained in the second reading. It tells us to do more, love more and be more. Let’s shed our worries and concerns, for these do not solve our problems nor do they improve our relationships with our family, friends and colleagues. If we simply follow the instructions we have been given through the Lord Jesus, we can “Stand up, raise our heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Happy preparing everyone! May this time be joyful and fruitful for each of us.