Sunday, 29 November 2015

1st Sunday of Advent, Year C

Lk 21:25-28.34-36
Christmas is less than a month away!
For some of us, this approaching date is a matter of excitement and hope. The people I will meet, the presents, and more!
For others of us, it is an approaching deadline, a time to panic, a time to feel uneasy in the stomach. To panic about those same things: The people I will meet, the presents, and more!

It occurs to me that this is rather similar to the way that different people think about the Second Coming of Christ, about the End of Time.
For some of us, to mention this is to give a cause for hope, for anticipation. I have a friend who will frequently and eagerly tell me about the latest prophecies he has heard of on the Internet, of visions, and even of how various natural disasters seem to all fulfil private revelations.
To such people, thoughts of the Second Coming are all “GOOD news”: when the Lord returns all will be put right.

For others of us, the mention of the End of Time is a real conversation-killer.
It means that everything we are now enjoying will be ended. How will you know who would have won I’m a celebrity, get me out of here if Time ends before the end of the season?
Worse, such people think of all the BAD things that the Lord warns us will accompany the End Times, some of which we heard recounted in today’s Gospel: “on earth nations in agony… clamour of the oceans and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world”(Lk 21:25-26) –it will all be something we will need to have, to use the Lord’s words, “the strength to survive”(Lk 21:36).
In addition, many worry they they are not prepared: the Lord warns that we need to “stay awake”(Lk 21:34) –but what if I'm not ready when He comes?

So, which approach is right? Is the Second Coming good, or a matter of fear?
Well, it is something of BOTH.
But, fundamentally, the Church starts our Advent season with thoughts of the Second Coming, not to frighten us but to give us HOPE.
Such hope, however, is only received as “good news” if we have our hearts rooted in the right things.

The Second Coming, like Christmas, can either frighten us, or delight us.
Primarily, a Christian should LOOK for the return of Christ.
If we named after Him, Christian;
if we follow Him;
and if we recognise that all that is WRONG with this world lies in how it is estranged from the Lord Jesus, the One through whom it is all made
–THEN we should YEARN for His coming with rejoicing.
I want Him to come at the End of Time, to vanquish suffering and evil, to fulfil the time when “your liberation is near at hand”(Lk 21:28).
I want Him to come at Christmas, to bring peace to all my troubled relationships,to my weariness, to my loneliness, to my problems.
I want Him to come to me in this Mass, that I might experience today a deeper grasp of the reality of all that His Coming can bring.

Let us take a moment today to ask ourselves whether we think of the Coming of the Lord with fear or with hopeful expectation.
And let us deepen and purify our hope by recalling that nothing I experience now, nothing I fear to lose, nothing can compare with “what God has ready for those who love Him”(1 Cor 2:9).

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