Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
I once worked with a secretary who could not wait patiently for a birthday or Christmas. She wanted to know what gifts she might receive, and didn’t really care about being surprised. “Tell me what you’re getting me,” she’d joke as the holidays approached.
The Advent season might make such people a bit impatient. It’s all about waiting—waiting for the coming feast of Christmas, and waiting for the glorious coming of Christ at the end of time.
On this first Advent weekend we hear about that second coming. The events which Jesus predicts before the end are terrifying—enough to make anyone want to put off those final days as long as possible. But he urges his disciples to be vigilant and pray. He wants us not to be surprised, but rather fully awake and aware.
The Lord’s advice, coupled with Paul’s words to his mission church--the Thessalonians--in the second reading, can apply to us in the twenty-first century as well. If the final revelation of the Kingdom demands our vigilance, so does the day-to-day unfolding of that same reality: God is at work all around us. The prophecy of Jeremiah in the first reading promises a reign of justice. The Lord wants to invite each of us to participate, and to act in harmony with that wonderful promise.
In this week's first reading, the prophet, in the name of the Lord, says that the promises made to Israel and Judah will be fulfilled. God will raise up a just descendant of David. Who will that be?
What shall the prophet do for Judah and Jerusalem?
What is Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians in the second reading? What does Paul ask them to do?
This week's Gospel reading is rather frightening. What is Jesus saying will happen? Should we panic and be afraid? Why or why not? What warning does Jesus give all of us about the difficult times that are coming?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
Advent is a time of waiting but, just like in today's Gospel, we need to be aware of the world around us. Try to find some concrete ways to stay aware of the true meaning of the Christmas season.
Before you light the first candle of your Advent wreath, say this blessing.
Take some time to discuss these questions about the Advent season.