First Sunday of Advent
Sunday Gospel Reading
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory.28 Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly,35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.
Pointers for Homily Reflection
This Sunday begins a new liturgical calendar. The calendar commences with a season of advent that is a four-Sunday preparation for the celebration of the birthday of Jesus. This long-season is a fitting spiritual and moral preparation because Jesus is King, a Son of God, the Messiah, and our Savior from all our sins.
Context of the Reading
The gospel reading taken from Luke is a narrative description of the end-times. It depicts a catastrophic scenario of the world of nature and an image of humanity at the brink of painful devastation. At first reading, the text seems to reveal a revelation of Jesus about the end-time situation. However, one realizes that behind the images of destruction, obliteration and annihilation is a very powerful image of our God—“the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (v.27). One cannot help but recall Jesus’ words “ I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and end” (Rev. 21: 6). No matter how ominous the end scenario would be—our God holds the future standing and waiting for all his creation. And for our God, this is not much a day of destruction but a time of glory and power.
The power and glory of the Son of Man in the gospels is about our God, who is a God of love, mercy and compassion who healed the sick, cast out demons, pardon sins, performed miracles and wonders so that people might come to a faith in the Father who sent Him. But above all, the Son of Man’s Power and authority is his greatest act of sacrifice to save us from sin and death so that we can become sons and daughters of the Father once more. This is the God who stands at the end of our History.
The Moral Challenge of the “Son of Man”
In an encrypted metaphor, Jesus issues the core challenge before one faces this Son of Man. It’s all about one’s heart. Is the heart beating for the values of the Kingdom—of justice, goodness, charity, mercy and compassion? Or is the heart weighed down with illicit behaviors, desire for power at the cost of truth and goodness, honor without integrity, riches at the cost of justice?
The four-week season of advent is the proper time to divest one’s heart with anything that weighs it down—sin, pride, arrogance and conceit. This season leading to the celebration of the birthday of the child Jesus is a season to become childlike once again—to become like Jesus. He has the heart that is pure, chaste, humble and meek.