Here we are again in year C, opening with the season of Advent. It’s not a repetition but a grace period given us to renew our momentum as we actively await the coming of the Lord. It should be a time of joy, yet, the preluding events are terrifying. How do they help us to prepare ourselves?
Bible readings Jeremiah 33 :14–16 Psalm 25: 4–5, 8–10, 14 1 Thessalonians 3: 12-4 2 Luc 21: 25–28, 34–36
Events that shock us
We await a savoir who comes to rescue us from whatever destroys the beauty in which we, and the world, have been created. It’s the events happening in our lives, and in the world, that make his coming necessary. Perhaps, in that way we can understand better the extraordinarily shocking events that precede his arrival.
On one hand, the alarming events show the importance of the Lord’s Day that leaves no one indifferent; hence, an invitation to remain vigilant. On the other hand, they may point also to the extent of evil and destruction that we see going on in our world, that is, the damage caused to ourselves and to the environment. Examples are not rare.
In the world that hinges on money, making profit becomes a goal of life so much that a human being is reduced to mere instrument. Then, we can only expect the horror of seeing workers living in misery despite the huge profits made on their shoulders. Look at the huge investments made in perfecting weapons for killing human beings! Who can take it for granted that a family is a place where one can be spoiled with fair and fraternal dealings? Yet, many families, probably ours too, are locked up in violent discord so much that parents and children, or brothers and sisters, mercilessly tear one another apart. Despite the many good things that happen in our world, no doubt, we have also more than enough dose of shocking events. The list is inexhaustible.
That’s why the Gospel may not be referring to things yet to happen but rather to the very destruction, at various levels, that we are already living today: diseases and harsh climatic changes, to mention just some. What next? Do we abandon ourselves to despair?
Advent, season of revival
Advent revives our hope. How? See the beautiful words of promise which open the first reading: “The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfil the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah…I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land.” Days of renewal are but just around the corner, is the message that Advent announces. However, it’s good to notice that this promise of renewal comes only after a time of destruction -sin. From disaster, to put it crudely, hatches out new life. Allow me some imagination here.
I think of a man and his wife, who have been locked up in a difficult relationship for so long time that they fear for their future together. Their life together has become only a source of stress. But, then, something happens, a kind of revelation: one says to the other, darling, I’m tired, I just can’t bear it anymore -fighting everyday. And the other responds, you are right darling, I feel the same. We can do better. With that simple way of stating things as they are, without blaming, the couple sets itself on the path of renewal. From their stress will come bright days. I see Advent in a similar way.
Advent, time of legitimate pride
Whatever shocking experience we may have had in our work or in our relationships; the message of Advent is: don’t give yourself up to despair, see, better days are coming. That’s the exhortation of the Lord: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Isn’t that beautiful! Indeed, after the darkest hour dawn follows. That’s the encouragement this season comes to give us. However, that may not come about in a magical way. This new start calls for action.
Not like Thessalonians
The Thessalonians awaited the imminent coming of the Lord. And if he’s coming so soon, why investing time and energy in work? No use, so, tools down! Paul reacted quickly to correct them. We don’t wait for the Lord in idleness. In the second reading he encourages the Thessalonians to wait for the Lord, living in love with one another and leading saintly lives. That’s equally the call in the Gospel: “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” We await the coming of the Lord actively by action of love and holiness.
Then, we can only encourage one another, whatever shocking experiences you may be going through; may this joyful waiting for the coming of the Lord sustain your hope. Walk with your head high, for new and better days are coming. So, together, let’s roll our sleeves to hasten this new start.
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