Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
REDEMPTION IS AT HAND. Every Advent season, we recall the two comings of the Lord. The first is the coming of the Messiah born in a manger more than two thousand years ago. The second is the coming of Jesus Christ our Savior at the end of the world.
Many have predicted, and continue to predict, the second coming of Christ. His return is said to presage the end of the world and its destruction. Enslaved by fear, they spend their days uselessly predicting the end time. They dig foxholes and store food and drink in underground bunkers to prepare for the grim end.
Sacred Scripture does not counsel us to prepare for the end by being dominated by fear. Jesus says that we have to welcome the coming of the Son of Man with joy “because your redemption is at hand.” We must be prepared at all times. To be ready, Jesus says, is to avoid getting caught up in too much feasting and drinking or being preoccupied with the anxieties of daily life.
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, calls on them to improve their present condition. They will accomplish this if they let their love for one another and for other people grow and become more fervent. God will fortify their hearts so that they will remain holy.
For some people, the coming of the Savior on the first Christmas is only a thing of the past. It is delightful to dwell upon, but only just like another children’s story.
For many of us, instead, Advent is an invitation to reminisce the first Christmas so as to be ready for God’s coming to us every day, while we anticipate Christ’s return in glory on the final day.
SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.