LUKE 21:25-28, 34-36
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.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Happy New Year! We begin the beautiful season of Advent today and the readings are quite surprising. You would think that they would talk about the child about to be born in Bethlehem. Jeremiah writes from prison during the Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem. Despite the calamities that have come upon Jerusalem, Jeremiah reminds them of the promises of God. A savior shall come from David’s line and safety and security will return to the land. This seemed like an impossibility when it was written.
Then in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus points us to some horrific signs that will cause people to “die of fright”. Like Jeremiah, Jesus tells the people to not be afraid. “Stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” In other words, Jesus promises to be with us until the end of time and no matter how difficult things appear, do not lose hope. It is in these most difficult times that our redemption is close at hand.
At the same time, Jesus calls us to be ready for His coming. “Beware…be vigilant at all times and pray….” God is going to come as He promised to redeem the faithful. We must “pray that you have the strength to …stand before the Son of Man.”
The readings this weekend give me great hope that even as ISIS seems to be gaining ground, we must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. We should not despair nor lose hope; Jesus has won the victory. At the same time, it is a call for us to grow in personal holiness and to come together as a people of God to take a stand. We should not allow ourselves to be carried away by our culture, but we should effect changes in our culture for Christ.
Do you lose hope when you read the newspaper or watch the news?
Where do you find your hope in the middle of trials and tribulations?
Am I vigilant in my spiritual life so that I am not surprised when the Lord comes for me?
How do I effect changes in my environment for Christ?
Or I am being carried away by the culture?
Make a fresh start this Advent. Make a change starting with yourself. Prepare your heart this Advent for Jesus. And join forces with other disciples to make a change in our culture. Do not lose hope! Do not be afraid! The Lord is at hand.
Have a blessed Sunday!