Gospel Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent
November 29, 2015
Luke 21: 25-28, 34-36
The season of Advent begins with a reminder of the “end times”. Jesus talked about them with his followers during the final week of his earthly life. The images he used were vivid and frightening. It was a wake-up call.
We obviously do not know when human history will end. Believers could argue that we’ve been living in the “end times” for almost 2000 years, ever since Jesus’ resurrection. There certainly have been many horrible events and situations through the centuries. Fourteenth century Christians, experiencing the Black Death, could have made a very good case that the end of the world was near. And today, although many of us are living happy and fulfilling lives, many more are experiencing war, terrorism, hunger, homelessness and countless injustices. And climate change, whether or not it is caused by human activity, threatens to affect us all.
Jesus told his followers to stand up and be “vigilant”, for their redemption was at hand. But what does it mean to be “vigilant”? Is it enough to say “I believe”, and go on with our “normal” lives? There must be more. Perhaps being vigilant is imitating Jesus, doing what he would do each and every day. This will take some courage, but we are not alone. God will not let go of us, even in death.
For the Son of Man—Jesus—is not just coming in the future. He is with us now. Advent celebrates our belief in his presence, even when he seems most absent.