The last sentence of this Sunday’s gospel passage – “and what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake”- sets the tone for Advent.
Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Christ into this world. The word Advent is a pagan word meaning the “coming” of their deity. This word was also used for a “visit” of a king to a particular city or town. The early church applied this same word to celebrate the coming of Jesus, the Son of God at His birth at Bethlehem.
Advent, therefore, is a time to prepare and celebrate for the visit/coming of Christ into our world. We do this preparation in two distinct ways. Firstly, we go back into history and learn about His actual coming into this world. We try to learn the prophesies from the old testament which foretells the coming of a messiah. We also learn about the need of Christ’s coming for the salvation of all humanity – past, present, and future.
In today’s gospel, Jesus invites us to remain awake and vigilant so that we may not miss the visit of our God. Jesus is coming to this world to bring the glory of God to us. We cannot afford to slumber and miss the opportunity of seeing his marvelous works. When Jacob woke up from the dream in the Old Testament, he realized that God had come to Visit him, Jacob exclaimed ‘Surely the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!'” (Genesis 28:16)
Secondly, we prepare for His second coming or “Parousia”. God comes to us every day of our lives. He is present when we do something godly – spread love, work for peace and reconciliation, and stand for justice. Definitively, He comes to us on the last day of our History – individual and of the world – to take us to Himself. Preparing for Christ’s second coming entails preparing for His coming every day of our lives.
In the first reading Isaiah prays to God and says “Oh, that you would tear the heavens open and come down!” (Isaiah 64: 1). Let our prayers this advent be the same. Let us long for the presence of Christ who only can dispel every form of darkness and struggle from us.
Come! Lord Jesus Come!
-Fr. Ranjan D’Sa OCD