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Reflections on Advent

It is the start of a new liturgical year. As in every year, the previous liturgical year ended with the feast of Christ the King, a fitting high point indeed. After going through the year observing the various highs and lows and phases of His life, in the end, and rightly so, we proclaim Jesus as indeed the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

And so the Church starts the cycle anew, beginning from His birth into this world. To build up to that, we have the season of advent, of waiting, of anticipating, of preparing, for the birth of He who we recognize and proclaim as the King of kings.

One would expect that this major season is ushered in with Bible verses expressing the level of excitement befitting the birth of the King of the universe. It is therefore a bit surprising and sobering that the opening reading of this season is one with a theme that speaks not of celebration, but of foreboding of the coming end times.

"There will be strange things happening to the sun, to the moon, and the stars. On earth, whole countries will be in despair, afraid of the roar of the sea and the raging tides. People will faint from fear, as they wait for what is coming over the whole earth, for the powers in space will be driven from their courses. Then the Son of Man will appear, coming in a cloud of great power and glory. When these things begin to happen, stand up and raise your heads, because your salvation is near." Luke 21:25-28.

Moreover, we are enjoined to be on watch and to be vigilant in a specific way: "Be careful not to let yourselves become occupied with too much feasting and drinking and with the worries of this life, or that Day will suddenly catch you like a trap. For it will come upon all people everywhere on earth. Be on watch and pray always that you will have the strength to go safely through all those things that will happen and to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:34-36.

It is significant, we might even say ironic, that during this season of merriment in anticipation of the birth of the Messiah, we are warned exactly not to be merry. In this period that we normally celebrate with much food and wine and music, we are instructed to refrain from such things.

Is the verse dousing cold water on all these festivities, and preventing us from celebrating joyously the arrival of the King?

Not so. The verse simply reminds us of something more important,  whatever be the season of our life, of being constantly prepared and on the watch at all times, not ever to bring our guards down, whether we are going through our low moments or high points in our life. We are reminded to always "Be Prepared" as the Boy Scouts' motto goes, whatever our specific situation may be at any given time.

Also, I sense that the Lord would like to bring us to a deeper level of rejoicing, not merely on the level of the frivolous, as too much feasting and drinking are.  The words of Jesus do not prevent us from rejoicing. He wants us to continue to be prepared even as we celebrate. He warns us not to rejoice in a wanton way that takes us away from our right senses resulting in our being unprepared. Thus, our rejoicing should be coming from deep in our hearts, not shallow and hollow expressions of the same. Our rejoicing should be geared towards allowing us to still be prepared.

Thus, as we hold our Christmas parties and dwell in the merriment of the season, let us be mindful of the words from the Gospel. Appropriate feasting and drinking not only make us faithful to the gospel, but is also more healthy. Significantly, too, it should make us more caring to those who have less, and hopefully lead us not to be wasteful and to share whatever we have so many others will also experience a truly Merry Christmas.

Rejoice in the Lord! (Joe Tale)

Added on Tuesday, December 1, 2015


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