Friday, 30 November 2018 23:01

First Sunday of Advent – Stay Awake!

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firstsundayadventThe great Advent journey begins. Once again we are struck by God’s astounding graciousness in sharing his life with us in the person of Jesus.

“The Advent readings form a rich tapestry of images centered on the truth that God has come among us. In Advent we do not pretend that we are waiting for Jesus to be born in a stable. That happened once in history and it will not happen again. The God who came among us is still among us. Advent’s invitation is to become aware of the all-pervading presence of the risen Jesus as Emmanuel – God among us.” (Break Open the Word. The Liturgical Commission, Brisbane, 2009)

In Advent the church uses the first coming of Jesus and his final coming as two lenses to help us focus on the question of who and what we Christians in this day and age are to be as we wait in this ‘in between time’.

In the first reading this Sunday Jeremiah looks forward to the coming of one who will save God’s people, one who acts with honesty and integrity. In the second reading St Paul encourages the people of Thessalonica in their following of Christ. He prays that their love will grow even stronger and that their hearts will be ‘confirmed in holiness’. The early Christians believed that Jesus would return soon as the Lord of Glory. As time passed, they had to re-think this belief and work out how to live in the meantime. That’s the Advent question. The Advent answer lies in a new and deeper perception of the presence of Jesus in our own hearts and in the world; that the God who came among us so long ago is still among us. That is what Christmas really celebrates.

Today’s Gospel from St Luke warns Christians not to be distracted by the cares and snares of the world, but to be ready to stand confidently before the Son of Man when he comes. Often our world seems very much like the kind of chaos in the reading. The Gospel is also a call to see the presence of Jesus in the chaos of our own lives and in the chaos of the world around us. Remaining constant in love and attentive to our calling we become the confident, hopeful, living presence of Jesus until he comes again.

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