TODAY the Christian world begins the celebration of the Advent season. What this means is that Christmas is just around the corner. Pretty soon the merriest occasion of the year will be here, full of joyful remembrance of that holy night when Jesus Christ our Savior was born in Bethlehem.
Advent is a season of waiting. People of long ago waited for thousands of years to see the birth of the promised Savior. They waited patiently, and their waiting came to an end when on that first Christmas, God has fulfilled his promise.
Today we are also waiting. Not anymore for the first coming of Jesus as a young babe, but for his second coming as a conquering king. In our faith we profess that Christ has indeed come in the flesh, that he died, that he rose again, and that he ascended back to heaven. And with this profession is the affirmation of our Advent hope that Christ, who is always faithful to his promises, will come again on the last day.
No human being knows the exact day or hour of this second coming; only God knows. This Sunday’s gospel (Matthew 24:37-44) tells us that it will be like in the days of Noah when people “were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage;” in other words, living their normal everyday lives, and then the floods came. It also tells us that it will be like that of a thief breaking into a house at an unknown hour of the night, catching the master unaware and asleep. Yes, Jesus’ second coming will happen at the most unexpected of times and circumstances.
The Advent message is therefore that of preparedness. It is uncertain when Christ will come, but it is certain that he will come at an appointed time. It doesn’t really matter when this appointed time would be; our physical death may even precede its occurrence, just as the death of everyone who died before us did. What matters is that we are prepared to meet our God.
And how do we prepare? By being put right with him through the cleansing blood of his Son. By repenting from our sins and persevering in Divine grace to live in obedience to his commands and will. By having a living faith in Jesus that is manifested not only in what we say but more importantly in what we do. By loving God will our whole heart, mind, and soul, and loving our neighbor as we love our selves.
This Advent may our waiting go beyond the material and the superficial, and level up to what counts more to the eternal destiny of our souls.
A Blessed Season of active waiting to one and all. Happy Advent. Come, Jesus, come...