From the Pastor's Desk
First Sunday of Advent
The central theme of today’s readings is Jesus’ warning to us to be alert, watchful and prepared because Christ’s Second Coming, coinciding with the end of the world, can occur at any time. People, in general, used to have a paranoid fear about the end of the world. They expected it in A.D. 204, 999 and 2000. The title of a best-seller published in 1988 was 101 Reasons Why Christ Returns in 1988. A very popular film released in 1999 about Christ’s Second Coming was Omega Code, and another film released in 2005 was Left Behind. Excessive fear of the tribulations accompanying the end of the world led the followers of a religious cult led by Jim Jones (in 1978), and followers of another cult called Heaven’s Gate (in 1997), to commit mass suicide.
But Jesus, in today’s Gospel, gives us the assurance that we need not be afraid of the end of the world, Christ’s Second Coming and the Last Judgment if we remain alert and prepared. The Church invites us on this first Sunday of Advent to prepare for Christ’s Second Coming, first by properly celebrating during this Christmas season the fond memory of Christ’s first coming 2000 years ago, second, by experiencing Christ’s daily advent or coming in the Eucharistic celebrations, in the Holy Bible and in the worshipping community, and third, by preparing for Jesus’ Second Coming which, for us, will happen at the moment of our deaths or at the end of the World.
In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah prays for God’s active presence so that the Jewish community, returned from Babylonian exile, may remain faithful to their God.
In the second reading, St. Paul prays for the reconversion of Christians in Corinth who have misused their gifts and charisms and remain ill-prepared for Christ’s Second Coming.
In today’s Gospel, using the short parable of the servants and gate-keeper of an absentee master who could return at any time, Jesus instructs his followers to be alert and watchful while doing their Christian duties with sincerity. The gate-keeper and the household servants are expected to be ever-vigilant because their master is sure to return. The time of his return is uncertain, but the reward or punishment is sure and certain.
We should live in the living presence of Jesus every day waiting for his Second Coming. We can experience Christ’s living presence in the Holy Eucharist, in the Holy Bible, in our worshiping community in our parish, in our family, in our own souls and in everyone around us. The early Christians experienced it, and that is why the mutual greeting among Christians was not “Hi!” or “Good Morning!” but the Aramaic, “Maran Atha” which means “Come, Lord Jesus.” This greeting acknowledged Jesus present in each of them and about to return. God bless you and keep you ever prepared in each of them and about to return. God bless you and keep you ever prepared for Christ’s second coming.
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 will receive an extra gift: Christ himself. Let us remember the saying of St. Thomas Aquinas: "Without God, I can't. Without me, He won't."
Being wakeful and watchful: We are so future oriented that we often forget the present entirely. We spend too much time trying to protect ourselves against future misfortunes. We save for a rainy day, to get married, to buy a home, to send the children to college, to retire in comfort and to protect ourselves against future misfortunes. But we need to be more spiritually wakeful and prepare for our eternal life because we can die any day, and that is the end of the world for us. Let this Advent season be the time of such a preparation for us.