Advent-A Time of Waiting
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, which is also the first Sunday of the new liturgical year. The Advent season includes the four Sundays that precede Christmas. Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord. In this season, we recall two central elements of our faith: the final coming of the Lord in glory and the incarnation of the Lord in the birth of Jesus. The key themes of the Advent season are watchful waiting, preparation, and justice.
Today’s Gospel is taken from the last chapter before the passion narrative in which Jesus is teaching in the Temple. We hear Jesus speak to his disciples about the need for vigilance and prayer as they wait for the coming of the Son of Man in glory. This gospel is dealing with both the medium and long term future for believers in which Jesus recognises that although he has come to bring freedom and peace that does not mean there will be an immediate end to violence and suffering. The language is that of apocalyptic which is a type of writing aimed at encouraging people to believe in God’s ultimate victory, the triumph of good over evil. By the time that Luke’s gospel was written, people were wondering when would Jesus return and how would they know. Here they are reminded that the key thing is not about the future but to be faithful to the way of Jesus, especially a prayerful way of reflecting on the times we live in.
We might be wondering how these readings are supposed to help us get ready for Christmas. Well, they do this by reminding us that Advent is a time of waiting – a getting ready for the return of Jesus – not just a recalling of the first Christmas but a preparation for the fact that he will come again. So the focus for us at the start of each Advent is the invitation to prayerful taking stock of how ready are we, as individuals and as a church, to receive him however, wherever and whenever he comes to us.