Wednesday, December 02, 2009

First Sunday of Advent

My Dear brothers and sisters in Christ

Grace and Peace to you in God, our Father through our Lord Jesus Christ who will come again in the power of the Holy Spirit. One Christmas, when I was a kid, there was one thing I wanted more than anything in the world: a remote controlled car. For weeks prior, I had made a point of pointing it out whenever my mom and I went by a toy store and bringing it up in conversation in a not so subtle way of showing her that it was important to me. I knew she would, in turn, communicate the importance of the car to Santa Clause since she kept telling me we couldn’t afford it. I used to sit around and think about all the cool things I would do with my remote controlled car when I got it and how fast it would go on our gravel drive way. In my family, we used to unwrap gifts in two stages. On Christmas Eve we would unwrap the gifts from my parents and on Christmas day, the gifts from Santa. I can remember opening my parent’s gifts and getting the usual, clothes. BORING! I went to bed that night with visions of a red remote controlled car jumping off step, making a perfect landing while I watched from the front porch smiling. The next morning, I awoke and ran to the Christmas tree to find several cool presents. I found a sled, a new Transformer, and more clothes. But, the one thing I didn’t find was a remote controlled car. I couldn’t believe it! I made a deal with Santa. I was a good boy for a whole month and I didn’t get my remote control. He broke his promise!

For the past several Sundays, we’ve been hearing apocalyptic stories about end times and how Jesus will come again in the midst of future tribulation. All along, we are cautioned to be prepared. But, to be honest, I have a difficult time with all these end time statements. It’s not that I don’t believe Jesus could ever come again or that I don’t want Jesus to come again. It’s just that, after 2000 years of waiting, I’m not sure how to remain vigilant. I mean, to be honest, the idea of the end times predates Christianity. We heard but one prediction in the first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah predicting a perfect world built by God in which the Lord is justice. God promises his people, in that reading, that he will take them from a very unjust society filled with corrupt leaders and raise up just leaders that will make them secure and peaceful.

Our Gospel picks up on this apocalyptic promise of peace and tells us that, in the end times, despite all the terror surrounding us and the fear and confusion of the unbeliever, we Christians should stand up with our heads raised like one who is anticipating great things, not hiding in fear of what is happening. This seems to pick up on exactly what is so frustrating about these end-times passages, a lot of holy people thought that they were living in the tribulation when, in fact, they were not. A lot of people have longed to see the coming of our Lord Jesus and have ended up merely seeing the coming of the end of their lives instead. How can we take these promises of apocalypse seriously if Jesus still hasn’t come? How long do we have to wait?

It seems to me that Jesus knew that this frustration would happen. That’s why we heard in the gospel today, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a thief.” Our hearts become drowsy when we start to put limits on God and how his plan works in our lives. We may never get the remote control car from Santa or some other gift that we think we need to have. But, we will one day see the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds. How do we know? Because God promised us and his word is good. God promised he would send the just descendant of David and he made good on that promise with Jesus. Jesus will make good his promise too.

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