ONCE again the Christian world is in the midst of Advent – a joyful season of four Sundays preceding Christmas. During Advent, we commemorate that long time in which the people of God in the Old Testament waited patiently for the First Coming of Jesus Christ as a young baby – the Son of God who humbled himself to be born in human flesh by the Blessed Virgin Mary. We also highlight the present time in which we, the people of the New Testament, wait eagerly for the Second Coming of Christ as the King of kings and the Lord of lords who will judge each one according to his deeds and pronounce either eternal life in heaven or eternal damnation in hell.
Last Sunday, the gospel reading (Mark 13:33-37) focused on watchfulness and alertness, for we do not know the exact time when Jesus comes again. This Sunday, the gospel (Mark 1:1-8) revisits the ministry of John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord. On the third Sunday, the gospel (John 1:6-8, 19-28) elaborates on the role of John as forerunner of Christ---inferior to Jesus in all respects, “whose sandal strap he was unworthy to untie.” And in the fourth Sunday, we read in the gospel (Luke 1:26-38) the account of the Annunciation – how the Angel Gabriel revealed to Mary God’s plan of Incarnation, and how Mary, the humble servant of God, said yes to the Divine will.
This season is thus a season of reflection, preparation and anticipation. Let us remember with gratitude how our loving Father fulfilled his promise of sending his only begotten Son to be like us in all respects except sin, and to save us from the consequences of our wickedness. Let us prepare our hearts to receive and cherish this gift of salvation, just as we persevere every day, that we may be counted worthy when he comes again at the end of time or when our life on earth reaches its completion, whichever comes first.
Likewise, let us listen to prophets like John the Baptist who advocate active waiting, that is, mending our ways and bearing fruits of good works even when days become months, months become years, and years become decades, for in God, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (2 Peter 3:8). Nobody knows the exact hour of Jesus’ Second Coming (Matthew 24:36) but the Bible, the word of God, is not lacking in prophecies and instructions.
And let us pray that like Mary, we may have an obedient heart to accept God’s design, remembering that God’s thoughts are always higher than our thoughts, and his ways are always better than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), and that everything works together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).