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Posted by on Nov 27, 2022

Time to Wake Up!

Time to Wake Up!

A new year begins today! Much of the world around us is focused on big sales and preparing for Christmas. But with the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new year. We light the first candle on our Advent Wreath. We turn our focus to preparing for the coming of Christ. We look forward to a new set of liturgical readings as well. This year we will hear from St. Matthew as he shares the story of the coming of the Messiah.

How does the Messiah come into our lives? How do we prepare for his coming? Is there something different we should be doing? Why do we need to do anything differently at all?

The beginning of a new liturgical year is a bit like the beginning of a school year, after a long summer vacation of sleeping late and playing outside long into the evening. It is not always a welcomed thing to have to get up on time to get to school again. And yet, there is an excitement to be back together and to start doing and learning new things.

We have come through a year of hearing St. Luke’s stories, both those told by Jesus and those told by others about him. What new things will we learn this year?

Isaiah tells us about the time when the exile of Israel in Babylon was drawing to an end. (Is 2:1-5) The people had received permission and encouragement to return to their own land again. Folks who had seen Jerusalem destroyed and who had begun life anew in Babylon were not necessarily excited about returning to a ruined city and once again starting over. They had become comfortable in their new homes.

Isaiah calls them back. “In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain… All nations shall stream toward it…” He foretells a time when people from all over the earth will listen to the Lord’s voice, ruling from Jerusalem, judging the nations, and bringing peace to the world. He calls, “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!”

It’s a new time, a new day, a new hope for the peoples of the world.

The psalmist, in Psalm 122, speaks of Jerusalem as well. “Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.” Jerusalem is the city in which the Lord’s house is located. There the people give thanks. There the judgement seats are set up for the house of David. There the prayers are offered for peace, prosperity, and good things for all peoples. Truly a place for rejoicing.

St. Paul also speaks of waking up in his letter to the Romans (13:11-14). “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep.” Salvation is at hand. The time of darkness, with all the awful things that can happen in the dark, is passing away. It’s a time for light and life, for conduct reflecting the light of the Lord Jesus. So “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in this new day and age. Wake up! Let go of the past. Decide each day to live in the light of this new day.

Finally, St. Matthew (24:37-44) relates Jesus’ instructions regarding the final times – the time when the Son of Man will come at last. He begins with an example familiar to all. “In the days of Noah” it was like it will be when the Son of Man comes. Folks lived their daily lives. They ate and drank. They married and gave their children in marriage. They had no clue anything was going to change in their lifetimes. If they noticed Noah’s preparations for a changed reality, they didn’t believe it or change their way of life. The kept on keeping on and enjoying their lives. And then the flood came and they were unprepared.

Similarly, says Jesus, when the Son of Man comes, it will be a surprise. Some will be taken and others will remain behind, living life as they are accustomed to live it. He says, “Stay awake!” Would those left behind have remained behind if they had been paying attention and noticed that the Son of Man had come?

We do not know the day or the hour when we will meet the Son of Man. It doesn’t need to be a great earth-shaking calamity in which the world is destroyed or Jesus comes on a cloud to judge all the people of the world. The day will come on which each of us meets the Lord in person. There are no guarantees when we get up in the morning that we will go to bed at night. And vice versa.

As we begin this new year, it is good to remember that all can change in an instant. So we must remain alert and prepared for meeting the Lord. It may be that we meet him in another person. It may be that we see the Lord’s hand in a beautiful sunrise or sunset or in the smile of a child. It may be that we meet him as we make that final transition into eternal life. Wherever and whenever we meet him, pray with me that our eyes will recognize his loving presence.

Wake up! Get ready! A brand new year of life and growth in love awaits us.

Happy New Year!

Readings for the First Sunday of Advent, Cycle A


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