This weekend, as we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new Church year. The word “Advent” comes to us from the Latin “Adventus”, which means “coming” or “arrival”. For us as people of faith, this notion of arrival has a double meaning. Yes, the Advent season does culminate in the celebration of Christmas, at which we recall the Nativity of our Lord in Bethlehem. That first coming, however, is not the initial focus of this season. The initial focus is on the Second Coming of Christ in glory at the end of time. That is why our readings continue on a very similar theme to what we heard last Sunday, when we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King.
Our Gospel today, taken from the Gospel of Mark, has Jesus telling us to be alert, because we do not know the hour at which the Lord will come. Many of us read these words as an occasion for fear, as if the Day of the Lord’s coming will be a terrible day, full of wrath and judgment. But the message is that if we are truly ready to meet the Lord, then we will recognize that the coming of Christ in Glory is the final revelation of God’s love for his people.
When it comes to reflecting on the end times, we can get so caught up in imagining the apocalypse, that we fail to realize the real message that Jesus is trying to convey to us. There is a small parable embedded in today’s Gospel, which speaks of a landowner going on a journey, and leaving his servants to do their work until he returns. Jesus is the landowner, and he has entrusted to us the work of spreading the Gospel to the world until he returns in Glory. If we do that, we will always be ready and eager to meet the Lord when he comes, since we are actively engaged in the building up of the Kingdom of God.
The First Reading reminds us that the Lord is the potter, and we are the clay, the work of his hands. During this Advent Season, even though it is the shortest possible Advent season we can have, I encourage you to allow the Lord to be at work in your life. Allow him to mold you, and to shape you into the person he is calling you to be: the person who will be ready to meet him when he comes in glory. May this Advent season be a time of Joyful preparation for the coming of the Lord in Glory.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB