Today we begin our yearly pilgrimage through the events of history of salvation starting with our preparation for the birthday celebration of Jesus and ending with our reflection on his glorious “second coming” as judge at the end of the world. We are entering the Advent season. Advent means coming. We are invited to meditate on Jesus’ first coming in history as a baby in Bethlehem, his daily coming into our lives in mystery through the Sacraments, through the Bible, and through the worshipping community, and finally his Second Coming (Parousia) at the end of the world to reward the just and to punish the wicked.
We see the traditional signs of Advent in our Church: violet vestments and hangings, dried flowers or plain green plants and the Advent wreath. These signs remind us that we must prepare for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives, enabling him to radiate his love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness through and all around us.
Scripture lessons summarized:
In the first reading (Is 2:1-5), Isaiah describes his prophetic vision of all nations making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, affirming their Faith in the one true God. Today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 122), is one of the Songs of Assent, the joyous hymns originally sung as pilgrims journeyed to the Temple in Jerusalem. They prepare us for our yearly pilgrimage. In the second reading (Rom 13:11-14), 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 life style of jealousy, and rivalry. We, too, are challenged to make spiritual preparations for Christ’s birth in our lives.
In today’s Gospel (Mt 24:37-44), Jesus warns us of the urgency of vigilant preparation for his coming on our part that we may meet him as our 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 that the unrepentant, ill-prepared evil people were destroyed by the flood in the time of Noah and that a thief will be able to break in and plunder the precious belongings of an ill-prepared householder. Using additional examples later, Jesus repeats his warning for us to be vigilant and well-prepared all the time, doing the will of God by loving others.
We need to be alert and watchful while spiritually preparing for Christmas by offering our daily work to God for His glory, by practicing more self-control in resisting our evil habits and inclinations, by seeking reconciliation daily with God, our families, and our neighbors, and by asking God’s pardon and forgiveness as we extend our unconditional forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Let us begin each day by praying for the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ rebirth in our hearts and lives.