for Sunday, November 28, 2010
Advent prepares us for the coming of the Lord. That coming of the Lord is
at three levels of our understanding and comprehension. The Lord comes to
us in the Creation, even though we may not reflect on that very much. The
Lord comes to us in the Incarnation, which is the Christmas story and often
touches people very intimately. And finally the Lord comes to us at the
end of time, but that is still future and not yet here.
Advent challenges us to think of all of these ways of coming to us as the
reality of our Lord Jesus Christ. So often we live only in the small
confines of our immediate past, our present and what we hope for in the
future. Advent challenges us to live in the whole sweep of human history,
seeing in that history the presence of the divine: our God comes to save
The first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah, like so many of the readings
from the prophets, speaks about the incredibly deep longing of the Jewish
people for salvation - and eventually a longing for a Savior. Most of us
long for salvation and for someone to save us when we are in terrible
situations. Like the chosen people, though, when things are fine, we don't
need salvation or a savior. If we begin to read the prophets of the Old
Testament, we find this dynamic over and over and over: catastrophe
happens, the people look for God, they find God, the catastrophe seems to
get over, people forget about God and get on with doing whatever they want
until catastrophe hits once again - and then the cycle starts over.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, speaks to us about how
to live. We should always be aware that the Lord is coming to save us. We
should always be aware that this life, in general, is catastrophe. We
don't like to think about it that way, but as we grow in the spiritual
life, it becomes more and more apparent that so many people are not looking
for anything except pleasure. Even in the midst of that, as they find
further unhappiness, they are looking for something that will change their
lives. So there is a real sense that everyone begins to look for salvation
at some point in life. So often we look in all the wrong places: let us
conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness,
not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy.
Today's Gospel, from Saint Matthew, sums it all up in this short phrase:
Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will
This is what real life is about: staying awake and knowing that the Lord
is in our lives and will be ever more in our lives if we allow Him. Stay
awake and live in such a way that it is clear that we are seeking values of
eternity and not just the values that give us pleasure today. Stay away
and find ways to love our neighbors.
All of this is possible when we believe deeply that this life is not all
that there is, that this life has many temptations, that this life is
ultimately leading us to an eternal life. Advent is preparing us for the
presence of God: in history, in our present lives and in the life to come.
Let us keep our eyes open and delight in the Lord.
Readings of the day:
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: