Advent is time of preparation for the coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. In this season, we celebrate his coming which has already taken place in the mystery of the incarnation, in which at the appointed time, God sent his son, born of a woman, to save us from our sins. At the same time, we look forward to his second coming in the Parousia, when he will come to judge the living and the dead, In between these two times, we celebrate his presence among us in mystery, by means of the Church and in the sacraments of the Church.
In our gospel reading today, prompted by how some people were speaking about the glories of the temple of Jerusalem, Jesus speaks about the destruction of the temple, leading to today’s discourse about the coming of the Son of Man. There will be signs in nature and all natural phenomenon, making people to die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world. They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Jesus goes on to tell us, when these signs begin to happen, we should stand erect and raise our heads, because our redemption is at hand (Luke 21:5-28). Continuing, Jesus asks us to beware that our hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, so that, that day will not catch us by surprise, like a trap (Luke 21:34-35).
In proper examination of these, we are not left in the dark on how we are to observe the Advent season, in preparation for the Lord’s coming in glory. In order not to be unawares, we have to be careful and ready.
That means we have to stand erect, with our heads raised and awake. In this way, Jesus invites us to keep our eyes well open so that we may immediately see the needs, and hear the requests for help from others.
It is only the one who prays that can keep vigilant and see through the eyes of God, the joyful, as well as, the sad events taking place in our world.
The way to keep vigilant and see through the eyes of God, is to live out the love of God, Jesus has revealed to us, in his first coming, in the mystery of his incarnation, and to live in the mystery of his presence among us, lived and celebrated by his holy Church. This is the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people of old (Jeremiah 33:14-16).
To be vigilant and to see through the eyes of God, we have to grow and overflow with love for one another and for all, as St. Paul prays for us today. It is to let our hearts be strengthened by God, to be blameless and holy. And so, St. Paul exhorts us, to conduct ourselves in a way pleasing to God (1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2). The only way this can be possible is to imitate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it means to live like him, to love like him, to die like him, to be selfless, and to do as he has done. Many times, we think only about ourselves. We cannot attain the knowledge of God by being selfish. We must pay less attention to ourselves, and think more of God and his people. If Jesus was thinking about himself, he would not empty himself to become man, in order to set us free. We must seek the will of God at all times.
May God give us the Spirit and grace to be pleasing to him at the coming of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, with all his holy ones. Amen
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD