"I will fear no evil, for you are with me."
The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year, reminding us that Christmas is just around the corner. It is not only the beginning of a new calendar cycle for the Roman Catholic Church. It is also a call for renewal of the baptismal bows of the faithful, a rededication of one’s faith in Jesus Christ. It is a call to prayer and penance for a renewed impetus that reinvigorates our Christian commitment to the message of the bible; the message of Jesus Christ who became flesh for our salvation. In this season of Advent, mother church spurs us to be vigilant for the Lord’s coming, to await His coming with anticipation and joy. He is the mystery incarnate not of the past but of the present, who is never absent, always faithful and will never abandon us. He is the God who abides by His church and accompanies us in every step of our history.
In the Gospel of Matthew for the First Sunday of Advent, Jesus tells his disciples that the coming of the Son of Man will catch many people unprepared. Jesus tells his disciples that they are to always be ready for the day of the Lord. The Gospel is taken from Jesus’s discourse at Mt. Olivet. He is speaking about the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem which is interpreted by the ancient Jews as the symbolic end of the world. In the gospel, Jesus tells the Jews of God’s coming judgment against Jerusalem for its obstinate failure to obey the will for the Father. And indeed, this came to pass in 70 AD when Rome sacked and destroyed Jerusalem. Theologically, this refers to the coming judgment of the world, and the second coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ often referred to by the term parousia. In Matthew, Jesus warns that as in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. We know not when the Lord is coming, so we should be vigilant and prepare for as Jesus said “if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” To wait means to prepare and watch our heart and soul so that when the Lord of Light comes we will be prepared to welcome Him.
In his homily on this biblical passage, Pope Francis explains to us its meaning. He said: The passage of the Gospel (cf. Mt 24:37-44) introduces us to one of the most evocative themes of Advent: The visit of the Lord to humanity. The first visit—we all know—occurred with the Incarnation, Jesus’ birth in the cave of Bethlehem; The second takes place in the present: The Lord visits us constantly, each day, walking alongside us and being a consoling presence; in the end, there will be the third, the last visit, which we proclaim each time that we recite the Creed: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Today, the Lord speaks to us about this final visit, which will take place at the end of time, and he tells us where we will arrive on our journey.”
Since time immemorial, Christian culture has been obsessed with the end times or the apocalypse. Many Christian sects and denominations devote much discourse on how to prepare for the cataclysmic events preceding the Second Coming of Christ. Indeed, the Lord will come to us at the end of our life or by His second coming. But we know not when this is coming although it will come as sure as the sun rises for as the Lord Himself said His day will come like a thief in the night; it comes at an hour when we do not expect it. Jesus emphatically said that only His heavenly Father when He will return. "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone," he added.
Perhaps, reflecting on one’s end is frightening. Weak as we are by nature, we are naturally terrified with what lies beyond; more so that the approach to this end entails suffering and pain. But with the grace of God we can face this full of confidence, knowing that we are reconciled with God, and have completely surrendered ourselves to Him. Is there anything to fear when we have sincerely dealt with our transgressions and regrets? On this score, the Psalmist gives us encouragement, saying—Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. With this in mind, let us prepare for the coming of the Lord!
Facebook: Dean Tony La Vina