The First Sunday of Advent

28 November 2021

Jeremiah 33, 14-16 + Psalm 25 + 1 Thessalonians 3, 12-4,2 + Luke 21, 25-28, 34-36 

We ponder the Word of God today as the world begins to bring 2021 to a close. The last month is about to begin. Yet most endings are really the beginning of something new. So, as the world closes a year, the Church begins a new year with the Gospel of Luke which will be our guide in the coming months. Like all of us, Jesus had his ideas about what was important. A farmer once ran an ad that said: “Wanted: young woman who owns tractor. Send photo…..of tractor.” He had his idea about was important too. Jesus highlighted a few points he thought was important for us to remember. For one thing, the timing of the end is unpredictable. For another, the second coming will in due time be known by the whole universe. That whole business of the coming of the “Son of Man” and clouds is a link to the Transfiguration and his Ascension as Luke describes those events. They involve clouds something significant to those people because of their familiarity with the story of Moses and that cloud that led the people through the desert days. Finally, Jesus insists that it is important to be alert, vigilant, and pray. 

What the Lord proposes to us is simply what might best be called, “An Advent Way of Life.” What that looks like is not complicated, but it is challenging. The challenge comes from this world filled with cruel violence, sexual corruption, hedonism, and a godlessness that drives injustice and rewards selfishness. It is the same world that St Luke faced living in the Roman Empire that was so decadent and corrupt. For the church, the faithful of his time, he wrote the Gospel we treasure so filled with hope, dreams, and promises.  In just a few weeks we will be telling the stories of those dreams that guided Joseph, Zachariah, Elizabeth and Mary. These are the promises that still give us hope on days when the end of the world seems to come with the death of a child, a broken marriage, the loss of a life-time partner, or yet another tragic shooting or an act of terrorism that shake our world. Living with hope is a challenge.

But it is not complicated, and St Paul in the oldest Christian document we possess, writes with gentle tenderness to the Thessalonians. He believed the end to be near, and like anyone who believes that it is so, he expresses his emotions, telling them how much they mean to him. It is a touching and personal example of an “Advent Way of Life.” It is a life style focused on the things that matter most. It is a way of living each day as if it were the last not fearful or anxious, but grateful, hopeful and confident that the promise of God’s love will be fulfilled. It is a way of living that is focused on what is good and just. It is a life filled with memories of good times, joyful and promising. It is a life sustained by people who do good things who far outnumber those who do bad things.

That Advent Way of Life takes no one for granted. While there may be times of anxiety, the times of anticipation and excitement are far more treasured. Watching for Jesus is as simple and as real as watching for someone you love to come home, never forgetting to tell them how much they mean to us.

In the Advent Way of Life, we forget what we’ve done for other people and remember what other people have done for us. We ignore what the world owes us and think of what we owe the world. In the Advent Way of life, no one is ever shouting about their rights, but working to fulfill their duty finding ways to do a little more. They look behind the faces of other human beings into their hearts, hungry for joy admitting that probably the only good reason for our existence is not what we’re going to get out of life, but what we going to give to life. It seems to me that this is the only way to stand erect and raise our heads before the Son of Man.

Father Tom Boyer