1 Advent

The end is not yet, but the end is near. The sun’s boiling heat, the pocked moon, the beauty of a black sky salted with stars, salmon-colored clouds at dusk, deliver the Son of Man and the angels of heaven. There is a way of seeing that unveils the surface of limited perception, that pushes out and beyond into wide-open wonder. God is this parousia, literary, “this presence,” a presence that is and is coming. Signs have said so, in the sun, and the moon, and the stars. If you have eyes to see, look and know that he is near. “Stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Go out to the night sky; walk under the midday sun; sense his coming.

Jer. 33:14-16Ps. 25:1-9
1 Thess. 3:9-13Luke 21:25-33

The earth is troubled. The seas rage and churn. “The people faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the earth” (Luke 21:26). They always have. There is nothing new under the sun. We could despair, but do not for the rock-solid reason that a promise has been sewn into us, the promise of God’s arrival, justice, and righteousness over this land (Jer. 33:15). “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 33:14). St. Jerome’s Vulgate has a Christian eye. It says, “Ecce dies veniunt, dicit Dominus, et suscitabo verbum bonum” (Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, and I will raise up a good word). And the Word was with God, and was God, and dwelt among us. The Word is the justice and righteousness that is present in and is ever coming to this broken and tragic world. We do not lose hope. Instead, we remain alert and attuned to the coming of the kingdom of God.

There is work to do. We may increase and abound in love for one another and for all (1 Thess. 3:12). We may strengthen our heart in holiness, making the heart a castle for a blameless God (1 Thess. 3:13). Loving God and our neighbor, and waiting, and giving all of our heart, mind, and soul, unveils the moment as God’s fresh coming. And the God who comes wants justice and righteousness, salvation, and safety. This is not from us, but it is a work given to us.

Yet nothing is expected and no human work is done if energies are dissipated by drunkenness and worry. And what of the Church with its slogans, mission statements, campaigns, noise and fuss, alcoholism and gluttony? Some gentle but firm exhortation is needed. Our minds and bodies and souls are called to this deep expectancy, the awareness that we live not to ourselves alone, but to Christ, and in the power of his bracing love that convicts and renews. In the sure confidence of Christ’s love for us, we ready ourselves “to stand before the Son of Man.”

In contemplative silence, in loud praise, in daily duties, and in righteous action, Christ arrives. Who is he? He is “intelligent, holy, unique, complex, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, free from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle” (Wis. 7:22-23). He who comes is the beginning, middle, and end of all things.

Look It Up
Read Psalm 25:5. You can wait all day long in the desire of your heart.

Think About It
Jesus does not want you to look and perceive, to listen and understand, in the same old way (Mark 4:12). He wants you to see his invisible arrival in the visible mysteries of this world (Rom. 1:20). He wants you alert.

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