GSC 2nd December 2018
Here we are at the last month of the secular year and, by contrast, at the beginning of a New Christian Year for our Calendar begins with the First Sunday of Advent, one of the shortest seasons of the Christian Year and yet a very important one for it is a season of preparation and penitence and a season of earnest looking forward.
Most of us have been worn down in a very boring political way with the machinations of Brexit where Mrs. May has been centre stage, others have been no less bogged-down by the pressures of commercialism brought about by business and advertising in the way of a massive sales pitch of what we must buy, “do” and spend in preparation for Christmas. If only Jesus Christ`s Birth and the true meaning of The Incarnation were really at the heart of Christmas instead of the secular celebration of winter gluttony and materialism that is about to take place under the guise of “X”-Mass.
Yes, these four Sundays and, indeed, the weekdays in between are a preparation period for putting Jesus back into our lives and into the meaning of Christmas and so it is a time (a) to prepare ourselves to be worthy of celebrating this Christmas this anniversary of Our Lord`s coming into this world in human flesh, taking our human nature upon himself as the incarnate God of Love. (b) It is the season that through grace and through the Sacrament of Holy Communion we can prepare our souls both to celebrate what has already happened but, the more so, that we each might be an abode for the coming again of Jesus our Lord and Redeemer and (c) it is a season of preparing ourselves for the final coming of Our Lord as Judge Eternal over each one of us whether that time should be at our own death or at the end of the world as we know it – whichever is the earlier.
Our Bible readings today should well prepare us to be spiritually uplifted as we consider these three pointers. From Jeremiah 33 verses 14 – 16 we find the prophecy of that great thing which is to come, namely the coming of the Saviour – `The Lord our righteousness` to herald the Kingdom in which Christ, the divine offspring, would be the first fruits of many to follow – the Mystical Body which is Christ and His Church.
From Jeremiah we discern that God the Father is the Righteous One who give all authority to His Son Jesus which we find in John 5; 27 and 1 Peter 3:22) who also becomes Righteous One who is being called to execute justice and righteousness in the world and it is through Him and His righteousness that we are the living saints (the ones called to be Holy) who likewise received a measure of that righteousness and it is in this way that we are able to fulfil the promise of Jeremiah that “the Lord is our righteousness.” (Jer.33:16.)
It is Christ who redeemed us as we find in Paul`s letter to the Romans 3:24, the Galatians 3:13 and the Ephesians 1:7 and that truth is made known to us through the centuries through the teaching of the Church an our own ongoing profession of faith.
Concerning seeing the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory we are reminded of the call of Nathanael as a follower when Jesus told him, according to John 1:51, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man”. It is only possible to accept that this came to pass for Nathanael, as Jesus promised, because God is truth – Jesus is truth. As Paul`s letter to Titus puts it: “God cannot lie.”(Titus 1:2) and “No falsehood is found in Him.”(Hebrews 6:18)
The whole message of Advent, then, is that we must be prepared, much less for the secular beano that Christmas has become, than for the second coming of Our Lord at the end of time! We have no indication of when that might that is for the Heavenly Father to decide. It may be tonight while we sleep or even before we go to bed so with urgency if anything needs to be done, we must get on with it – it must be completed for there may be no tomorrow.
St. Paul in his First Letter to the Thessalonians give us sound advice on how we should prepare ourselves by being loving, outgoing and forgiving to all that we ourselves might be forgiven. No limitations but rather following that saying of our Lord which we find in St. Matthew`s gospel chapter 7 and verse 2: “For with the judgment you make you will be judged and the measure you give will be the measure you receive.”
At our baptism we received the gift of new life – a new heart and a new spirit and, especially, the indwelling presence of the Holy spirit to help us and guide us through our pilgrim journey of life here on earth. May this holy season of Advent be a time of preparation for each one of us in the expectation of the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas, at our death, or at the last coming of the Lord in glory, whichever is the earlier.
Have no fear, take the Lord Jesus freshly to heart and be ready to greet him when he calls us home or returns in His power and great glory!