1st Sunday of Advent (2nd December, 2018)
First Reading: Jer 33: 14-16 (Shoot of righteousness)
Second Reading: 1 Thess 3: 12 – 4: 2 (Live in a way that pleases God)
Gospel: Lk 21: 25-28, 34-36 (Your deliverance is near)
Today we begin the advent season. Advent means “coming”. It is a season of preparation for the coming of the Lord. This preparation is accompanied by the hope of Our Lord’s second coming. Our preparation and hope for His second coming may be compared with the activity of a farmer in the field preparing and hoping for a good harvest. At times, the harvest may be plenty as expected or it may be poor as it happened this year in many places. Yet he does not give up farming. He waits for the next season and begins his work all again with renewed hope of a good harvest. It may be same with us. We may have done a lot to meet the Lord in our life and at times our preparation might have been insufficient too. Yet God calls us again to welcome Him.
Today’s readings give us hope and way for preparedness to meet Our Lord. The first reading speaks of fulfillment of God’s promise. The text is full of joyous news of restoration, fortune and protection the Lord gave to Israelites. They went through much agony, despair and humiliation at the hands of enemies. Yet God never gave them up. He fulfilled His promises. He brought them back to His fold. It is a message of hope and encouragement for us not to be despaired or sad when our faith weakens, when sin overpowers us. It calls us to repose our strength in Him and at all times to say as Prophet Jeremiah says, “Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love endures forever” (Jer 31:3-4).
The Gospel speaks of various catastrophes every faithful will experience in one’s life. The catastrophe we meet with may be physical or mental. Some may be created by exterior forces and some by interior forces i.e. what happens within us. No matter whether the source of suffering and tribulation is caused by interior or exterior forces, they are necessary too for us to prepare ourselves to receive Him personally in our lives and be recipients of the reward in heaven. For in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus would say, “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:11-12). So, the joy and happiness we await from the hands of God is not going to be life manna falling from heaven. Even the Israelites underwent a lot of hardships on account of obeying the commandments to leave Egypt. So, did our brethren in Orissa a couple of years back or even now in many remote areas unknown to us. So, on this day, we are called to have hope of joy in Him by preparing ourselves worthily enduring all tribulations that may come on our way.
But how shall we wait for him? Is it a passive waiting? In passive waiting, as we know, there is every danger of what Jesus warns, “When it (unclean spirit) comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first” (Mt 12:44-45). So we are called to wait as the disciples did after the ascension of the Lord, “And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere. While the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs accompanied it” (Mk 16:20).
Today as we begin the season of Advent, the Lord wants us to wait for Him here-and-now obeying His commandments enduring every suffering and persevering in our Hope in Him and for Him, our Lord Christ Jesus. Amen.