1st Sunday Of Advent Year C
Theme of the week: Be prepared at all time for the coming of Christ.
As we enter the preparation period for Christmas, the Readings this week provide us visions of the comings Of Christ – both His First Coming at Christmas and His Second Coming on the Last Day.
The period 900-750BC marks one of darkest time in history of the Israelites. In this period, the Holy Land was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel occupied by ten Israelite tribes; and the southern Kingdom of Judah occupied by the remaining two Israelite tribes. It was during this period that the Israelites descended into grave immorality; especially those in the north. As a result of their infidelity, God lifted his protection over the people; and in 587BC, the Holy Land was conquered by the Babylonians. As a result of this conquest, many Israelites were deported by their conquerors and exiled to Babylon. Thus, as in the times of Moses, the Israelites were once again enslaved in a foreign land. It is under this backdrop of a persecuted race that God demonstrated his boundless mercy. In spite of their repeated offences, when the Israelites cried for help, God answered. In the First Reading, God promised deliverance to the people. This would come in the form of a Messiah, a King from the line of David (verse 15). This promise was fulfilled at the First Coming of Christ, when a descendent of David came forth as the Messiah and the King.
It was due to their unfaithfulness to God that the people went into exile. Let us reflect on our own lives. Have I been unfaithful to God? Am I suffering from an exile too – a spiritual exile? If so, like the Israelites, let me cry out to the Lord for deliverance. Let me prepare my heart for the coming of Christ – at Christmas and on the Last Day.
In the Second Reading, Paul encourages his followers in Thessalonica to centre their lives around love in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ, so that they “may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (verse 13). As Jesus said in Jn 3:16, “for God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”. In other words, we are not made for mediocracy. We are made for heaven and God wants us to fulfil our destiny. In spite of our failings, being ever patient and ever merciful, God always stands ready to welcome us back into his love. And it is for this reason Christ came to us – to redeem us from our sins and pave for us the way to heaven. As we prepare for Christmas, we must never lose sight of this the true meaning of Christmas.
Like the Israelites in the First Reading and the Thessalonians in the Second Reading, we similarly look forward to the coming of Christ. The Gospel passage expands on this imagery of His Second Coming, the glorious return of Christ. In an age where the celestial bodies were used tell time, Jesus’ mention of “signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars” (verse 25) indicates the end of time. The passage reminds us to be vigilant at all times, so that we will not fall prey to worldly pursuits: “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap” (verse 34-35). This will be a great tragedy indeed, that we are so caught up with worldly pursuits that we are not ready when Christ comes. Let us wake up from dissipation and drunkenness and put on love, in preparation for the Coming of Christ – at Christmas and at the end of time.