The First Sunday of Advent
[Scripture Readings: Jer 33: 14-16; 1Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21: 25-28, 34-36]
The central theme of Advent that will be repeated in a variety of ways throughout the Advent season is the coming of the Lord. Like many words and phrases that are repeated often we can take the coming of the Lord for granted, and not stop to reflect on the significance of what we are saying. The Lord who comes is the One in whom we live and move and have our being. He is the eternal God who existed before creation came to be, and yet he entered creation and accepted its limitations. He is the God of transcendent power and glory and yet he revealed himself as an infant lying in a manger.
As St. Bernard reminds us there are three comings of the Lord. He came in history, the coming that we will commemorate at Christmas. He will come at the end of history as Lord of creation and history. He comes to us now as he enters our everyday lives. The three comings are distinct in time, but we are called to integrate them in our awareness and to live out of their unity.
Because we remember the Lord’s coming in history with faith and gratitude, we can look forward to his coming at the end of history with hope. God has been faithful to his promise to Israel. He has raised up a shoot of David, who is our justice and our peace. God loves us so much that he sent his Son to become one with us so that we might become one with him. With Christ’s Spirit in our hearts we can stand with confidence to receive his mercy and kindness when he comes in power and glory.
The Advent liturgy especially calls us to prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord at his final coming by welcoming Christ now as he comes to us in word and sacrament and in the people and events of our daily lives. Our hearts will be able to receive his love, because in love we have served our brothers and sisters and everyone that enters our lives. If we are attentive to others and to our responsibilities as stewards of God’s gifts, we need not fear that they will dull the expectation of our hearts for the coming of the Lord. On the contrary, if we go about our tasks like servants expecting their master’s return, we will be prepared to welcome him whenever he comes. If we not only listen to God’s word, but guide our lives by God’s word, he will call us to enter into his joy.
As we stand at the beginning of Advent let us awaken our hearts to hear the good news it announces. Let us enter into the season’s liturgy with faith and hope so that it may transform us and we will be ready to welcome the Lord when he comes.