First Sunday of Advent (C):
Does it strike you that on the very first day of the Liturgical Year, the readings talk about the end of time? One reason can be that a person who does not keep his end in mind is aimless. Or a person who does not see the end of his life can be ruthless and insensitive, if not persistently overbearing. And a person who does not have a vision or goal in life can be very sad and have lousy relationships. For some people the end of time is the sad and cruel termination of their existence. But for us Christians, the end is the joyful fulfillment of the promise that we will at last be with our Father, with Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom. So we pray daily: Our Father…. Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
A point that we may state in our consideration of the end is time. For people who are engrossed in worldly affairs, time is only a chronological order of minutes, hours, days, months and years. For people who are engrossed in one another in loving relationship, time is non-existent. For others, time is relative; it depends on how a person sets himself on what he has to do. For us Christians, time is not a mere chronology of moments in numerical figures, but a reference to and a loving relationship with Jesus Christ. For us chronological time is a gift from God that we have to transform into our relationship with Him and with His people. Without this transformation from numerical figure into a relationship of obedience to and love for Him, time becomes a wasteful passage of moments. The gift of time makes us aware that even from dust as well as from the shameful situation of sin, God in His mercy and love can raise up children for Himself.
One of the common ways that people show they are alive is to be busy or become busy bodies. “Busy” may mean that a person is fully occupied with work or play or with various activities, at times to the detriment of relationships. It may also mean that a person does not want to make time for a particular person or group of persons or does not want to do certain things. To be busy according to the world’s standards though, to the detriment of personal and social development, is to move farther away from God, who gives eternal life.
Our readings today teach us the following:
1. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” (Lk 21:34). Carousing and drunkenness take away your inhibitions, and therefore, can lead you to do things that you wouldn’t do or even think about when you’re sober. To be taken up by the anxieties of life can drag you to a life of emptiness. The life of a Christian is a life full of hope and joy.
2. “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” (Lk 21:36). Do not just be watchful against difficulties – for they are opportunities – but be watchful against errors of faith and charity. Strength comes from constant awareness of the presence of God in all situations, including hardships and inconveniences.
3. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…. so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness…. at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones” (1 Thes 3:12-13). Remember that the end/purpose of life is love, the way/process of living is love, and life is a gift of love. Only God is the reason for our life, for God is love.
Several ways that we can keep the end of time our way of life in Jesus:
1. Always recall and live the episode of the Last Judgment: “the King will say to those on his right…. Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me…. And the king will say to…. those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…. what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (cf Mt 25:31-45). Your relationship with your neighbor and your family is the key to eternal life. Without them life is a state of self-centeredness.
2. Go to confession and seek the mercy of God, and be nourished in the celebration of the Eucharist. Also, daily and regular prayer time will get you rooted in Jesus Christ. Your time is not your time. It is God’s gift. So, use it purposefully and give back some of it to Him in prayer and reflection of His Word, Jesus Christ Himself.
3. Be open/ready for any apostolate of the Church. Your presence and your service to others will give you and others the strength until the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.
In this celebration of the Eucharist, let us open ourselves to the work of Jesus to sanctify the world through us, and with the strength Mary, our Mother, gives us, we proclaim: your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.