This house of God is open for you; the Lord has been waiting to see you come home.
A place to leave behind the past, to have the
fullness of the present,
and to look forward to the bright future.
This year Advent begins with two very positive readings, followed by a stern warning. The first reading is from the prophet Jeremiah. “The days are coming when the promise will be fulfilled,” Jeremiah wrote to people who were decimated by their enemies. The Babylonians had captured many of them and sent them in chains to Babylon. The Hebrews knew that they had sinned against God. The exile was a result of their sins. But had God totally deserted them? “No,” Jeremiah said. God had not given up on them. The time was coming when a righteous shoot of David would lead them. And Jerusalem would be a place of justice, a place of union with God.
In the second reading St. Paul writes the people of Thessalonica. These people expected the Lord to come soon. Many were nervous and frantic. Paul tells them that all they have to do is abound in love for one another. This will strengthen them so they will be blameless in holiness before God at the coming of the Lord Jesus and his holy ones.
These are comforting words, particularly in light of Jesus’ warnings in the Gospel. He speaks about horrible signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, and people dying of fright. But he also says that when we see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory, we should stand straight and raise our heads because our redemption is near.
Waiting for the Lord to come again is the focus of Advent. This waiting for the Lord is different than the usual way we wait. It is not like the waiting we experience when we go to the doctor’s office and sit in the lobby reading old magazines or playing on our phones. Nor is waiting for the Lord like waiting in line at Disney World. We go through that endless maze, and keep walking and walking and going nowhere, but at least we know that when the wait is over we will get to the front of the line. But waiting for the Lord is not like those long lines because when we are in those lines we are not doing much, at least nothing all that constructive. Waiting for the Lord demands that we make the best use of the time we have before He comes.
How do we use our time? How do we wait for Him? So much of our time is wasted. We sit in front of a screen, computer or TV, for hours. Now, there is nothing wrong with relaxing, and there are great programs out there, but we need to accomplish more with our lives then watch TV, or play video games. When the Lord comes, we will have to show Him how we used the time He gave us. Hopefully, we will have accomplishments greater then achieving level 8 or watching the entire “Once Upon a Time,” series.
The wait for Christmas is just a glimpse of the real waiting we have as we wait for the Lord to come again. So we are told to stay awake, and wait for the Lord. When the wait is over, what will we have to show for our lives? Will we stand before the Lord and say, “I was planning to come closer to you Lord and spend time every day talking to you in prayer, but I just didn’t get it into my schedule.” Will we say, “I had always wanted to do things for others without seeking something in return, but I was too busy doing other things.”
Or will we say, “Lord, you know that while I waited I tried my best to serve you in others. You know that while I waited I talked to you every day.” If our wait is one of action, one of service, and one of prayer, then when the Lord comes again at the end of our time or the end of the world, we will be found, as St. Paul says, blameless and holy before God at the coming of the Lord Jesus and His Holy Ones.
May our lives be lives of actively waiting for the Lord.
In His Light,
Bishop Raymond Contois