A Time of Preparation and Anticipation
We’ve all heard the song “Santa Claus is coming to Town.” In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus is coming back to town, in the clouds with power and glory. We know the day Santa Claus will be here, but the glorious day of Jesus’ return we know not. From today’s readings we hear of two temptations which are easy for us to fall into: first, we might presume that since we have been waiting so long for the return of Christ, it won’t be anytime soon and we become complacent, thinking we’ll have plenty of time to prepare. The other temptation is to assume his return is any moment now…..so we live in fear of that great day. We can become frozen, rigid and unable to hope or to embrace life’s adventure. Both of these temptations should be avoided. Instead, we must look forward to his return, and as we wait, we use this precious time we’ve been given to grow in our relationship with Jesus while understanding this world is not our ultimate home.
Today’s Gospel can seem very sobering. Jesus doesn’t mince his words – there is going to be a reckoning, a judgment…..and we do not know when. But we do know it is coming, and therefore we need to be vigilant, prayerful and ready. This is not a pious platitude, but a tenet of faith we profess in our creed. The judgment will be a real one; the review of our life with its many choices and options will be laid out before us in the bright light of God’s revelation and mercy.
Being vigilant for Christ’s coming isn’t always easy. First, as Christians, we must stand tall in the knowledge our Redeemer is at hand, and to hold fast to the hope our faith gives us even in times of trial and tribulation. We know the final outcome in the great battle between good and evil is Christ’s triumph over death. Our task is to ensure we are on the winning side by living lives worthy of him. We cannot take it for granted, but instead daily renew our commitment to fulfill the hope is within us and to live our lives in the sure and certain knowledge our redemption is at hand.
Second, as Christians we are called to be realistic, to face up to the fact our world is broken and in need of healing, and yet we are never hopeless. Indeed, the Christian view is to see imperfection not as a lost cause but as an opportunity for healing and redemption. All is never lost until the moment of final judgment.
This is what we celebrate in the Advent season – a time of preparation and anticipation. We look forward to the coming of Christ, and as we look forward we strive to be vigilant, prayerful and worthy to stand before him when he comes in glory.
In Christ’s presence, who is Emmanuel, God with us. Fr Dave