SUNDAY’S READINGS | November 28, 2021

Jer. 33:14-16
Ps. 25:1-10
1 Thess. 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

Advent marks the beginning of the church’s calendar, an ominous beginning indeed because Advent does not direct our attention to a fresh start and healthy resolutions. Rather, we hear of “stress among nations” and that “people will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world” (Luke 21:25-26). “They will see ‘the Son of Man coming on a cloud’ with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27). The second section of the Nicene Creed that begins with the words “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ” concludes: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” The world, reaching even to our souls, is under judgment insofar as it has rejected the Anointed One. Time will end, and we will all stand before the great judgment seat of Christ. May God have mercy on us all.

Strangely, time is always ending, passing away, subtracting from the length of our lives. “The span of our life is 70 years, perhaps in strength even 80; yet the sum of them is but labor and sorrow, for they pass away quickly and we are gone” (Ps. 90:10). “You sweep us away,” says the Psalmist, “like a dream; we fade away suddenly like the grass” (Ps. 90:5). Hard as it may be to face the end of time, even the end of our own lives, or, for that matter, the end of each passing day, God is calling us to do just that.

Live and let live, we might say. Take it easy. Be upbeat. Yes, of course, life is a gift and can be a tremendous and incredible joy. Still, when we live as if there will be no end, no final judgment, no establishment of the kingdom of Christ, we are apt to fall into “dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life” (Luke 21:34). We succumb to boredom, listlessness, apathy, what the ancient Fathers of the Church called “the devil of the midday sun.”

Advent is a call to wake up and count the number of our days. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down” (Luke 21:34). A more literal translation would be “Pay attention to yourself.” We are admonished, “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). I realize it’s counterintuitive, but a proper and fitting fear regarding the end of time can enrich our lives immensely. At the very least, we will not waste time; we will put our hands to the plow and get on with the business of living and working and glorifying God.

So, what are we to do before the coming of the Lord at the close of the age, or the end of this day, for that matter? Pay attention to yourself, be alert at all times, do not succumb to dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life. Stated differently, St. Paul advises the church in Thessalonica to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thess. 3:12-13).

Fully alert and abounding in love and growing in holiness in the short time we have, we may have rich and beautiful lives adorned with self-sacrifice and a foretaste of the resurrection.

Look It Up: Psalm 25:3-4

Think About It: Show me your ways and teach me your paths in this very short life.