Tuesday 14 October 2014

1st Sunday of Advent Year B

Throughout our lives, we may have been concentrating on building a better life here on earth. As children, we studied hard, hoping to do well in school, in exams and striving to get into a good university. Then we spend much effort earning our Bachelor's degree and perhaps going on to a Master's degree or even a Doctorate. We may then look for work either in academic circles or in the corporate world, hoping to make a decent living and perhaps make a name for ourselves. All these things and efforts are certainly not wrong, since we do need to survive and prosper in this world. However, as we may have noticed, all these things and efforts only refer to life here on earth. As Christians, we believe that there is life after our time here on earth ceases. What would happen to us after we leave this life here on earth? Would we be with God? Would we be away from God?

In today's Gospel, Jesus said to his disciples, "Be on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come." What does Jesus mean by "stay awake?" In this season of Advent, we are not only preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas, we ought to also be preparing ourselves for the eventuality of death where we would meet the Lord, and also for His second coming, which is the end of the world. Death and the second coming of Jesus could be frightening to some, because of the unknown before us. Many passages in scripture have painted us fearful images of death and the second coming of Christ, but today's readings give us a different image.

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s Day as a day of happiness and expectation. The Lord is our redeemer and He “would tear the heavens open and come down.” For those of us who have prepared for death and His second coming, there would be no need to fear, since the Lord would be like a father to us. There would be no need for us to be anxious or frightened, if we have allowed ourselves to be formed by the Lord, as we are the clay and God is the potter. But if we are not prepared, if we have been neglecting our spiritual life and our relationship with God, if we have refused to change our ways, then we would have every reason to fear. We could be awake physically, but asleep spiritually, and we could be caught off guard or unaware or unprepared. In the Gospel, Jesus warns us to "stay awake, because you do not know when the master of the house is coming, evening, midnight, cockcrow, dawn; if he comes unexpectedly, he must not find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake!’

Are we spiritually awake, or are we spiritually in slumber. Over the years, we may have slackened or neglected our spiritual life. The attractions of this world, the choices and priorities we make and our attitudes towards sin, confession, and repentance are some factors which could have contributed to our spiritual slumber. Instead of making excuses; instead of pointing the blame towards others; instead of stubbornly continuing as we are; instead of procrastinating until it is too late; let us ponder the consequences of our actions. Do we want to be joyful and at peace with the Lord? If we do, then let us stay awake, and be prepared and ready at all times.

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