Homily for the first Sunday of Advent - Year C - Lk. 21:25-28 & 34-36
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus said: 'There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on 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. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
" 'But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.' "
"Jesus said: 'There will be signs in sun and moon and stars.' "
One liturgical year has just come to an end; a new liturgical year begins! And that is how things go... Step by step, humanity proceeds towards its destiny. Christians have always testified, ever since the day of Pentecost, that the God of Heaven and earth, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, came to earth about two thousand years ago in order to reveal in person before all men of goodwill and to save them through the shedding of his Blood on the Cross of Calvary. Once more, and ever louder, the Church of Christ shouts out to the ears of the entire world: "Jesus is Lord!"
The Lord came, and the Lord will return: this is our faith. But the meaning of this time of Advent, which inaugurates the new liturgical year, is that Jesus comes now, today, into our heart, our soul, our entire person. In what way does Jesus come now? Jesus comes into us now in the same way that he already came and in the same way that he will return. For, the present moment, this very instant when Jesus comes into us, is determined by a past and a future: the present moment is something we cannot take hold of, it always comes as the continuation of what has occurred, and as the preparation for what is to come...
Jesus came in humility; Jesus will return in glory. Jesus now comes in both humility and glory. Is it not this double aspect of humility and glory that we find in Jesus Eucharist? For it is the risen and glorious Jesus we receive in Holy Communion, but, at the same time, it is the hidden, invisible, small, and humble Jesus who is present under the appearance of the Eucharistic bread and wine. This is the coming of Christ today: in each Sunday's Eucharist - and even in each day's Eucharist! May this Advent be for us a Eucharistic Advent!
"Jesus said: 'There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.' "
The Gospel for this first Sunday of Advent speaks to us of the second coming of Jesus, at the end of time. The return of the Lord will be preceded by several natural catastrophes: today's text is clear on this. But is this something important to talk about? At first glance, yes: for the Lord spoke of it himself and, given his infinite Wisdom, he did not speak without reason. Now, in order to say that the Lord spoke of it, we need to have faith: it is our faith which enables us to say that these words are truly those of Jesus the Son of God. So it is important to speak of these catastrophes only if we believe that they are signs given to us by the Lord to announce his return. But if we do not believe this, it is better not to discuss this subject, for it would then be a source of vain and useless distress for us, as it will be for the pagan nations: "Upon the earth there will be distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves."
" 'And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.' "
Those who will believe in the signs the Lord will have given them to announce his return will be ready to welcome him! Faith, that force, that power which comes from very God, will enable them to stand on the Day of the Son of Man: they will stand up straight, their heads held high, without pride, but with the confidence and assurance that the Spirit of God gives to those who believe in him, he who is the very Power of God! But we must prepare for all this today, not tomorrow, for the day and the hour of the return of the Lord is unknown to us. If, today, we do not prepare to welcome the Lord when he returns, then we should be afraid, for that Day will come when we do not expect it!
" 'But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth.' "
Faith! Faith is the only thing that will prevent our perdition and eternal suffering! Faith is that which regulates us throughout our life: it is faith which enables us to keep ourselves in a happy medium in our possession and use of worldly goods. He who truly believes in Jesus the Son of God, who has come and will return, will avoid dissipation and drunkenness and the cares of this life and the worries of life. It is through faith that, now, Jesus already comes into us to communicate his life to us, the eternal Life which he has from God his Father: it is through faith that Jesus Eucharist enters into communion with us in order that we might become the members of his Body, anticipating in us the glorification of the sons of God, which will be revealed to the light of day at the end of time!
" 'But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.' "
The catastrophes that Jesus announced as signs of his return will be either well received or badly received: it all depends on us, on our faith or unbelief... If we believe in the Word of God, then we will "escape" these misfortunes, for in that case they will not be misfortunes, but rather a blessing, a final, ultimate means through which we will prove our faith and love to the Lord, through which we may purify ourselves one last time before seeing him face to face, seeing him as he is for all eternity! Let us ask the Most Holy Virgin Mary, who faithfully awaited the Lord at his first coming, to help us, each day of our life, as we meet with her Son, the Lord Jesus!