1 Advent, Year A: Time Known and Unknown

SUNDAY’S READINGS | November 27, 2022

Isa. 2:1-5
Ps. 122
Rom. 13:11-14
Matt. 24:36-44

Advent is the beginning of the church year, so we find ourselves faced with the question of time. Today is a new beginning. All the works of our lives and all the days of our lives begin, continue, and end in God, from whom and by whom and in whom are all things. Advent asks this fundamental question: What time is it? Or, what is this beginning?

From St. Paul, we have an answer. “You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near” (Rom. 13:12). And because salvation is so near, the apostle Paul advises that we “lay aside the works of darkness,” which he describes as reveling and drunkenness, debauchery and licentiousness, quarreling and jealousy. The Baptismal Covenant refers to the same evils and more in three questions of renunciation. The candidate for baptism, as well as parents and godparents, are asked to reject Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, the evil powers of this world that corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God.

Now is the time to wake up, refuse evil, “put on the armor of light,” and learn to “live honorably as in the day” (Rom. 13:12-13). Putting on the armor of light, we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14). We wear a vestment of light more brilliant than the noonday sun and walk confidently as children of the light. The Season of Advent says, “Now is the time to shine!”

We know it is time to wake up, but we do not know the exact time of the Lord’s arrival at the end of history or even the manner of the Lord’s visitation from moment to moment.

Jesus says, “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24:36). He then mentions the story of Noah and the flood, saying that “in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away” (Matt. 24:38-39). The arriving flood was an utter surprise.

Jesus tells of two people in the field and two women grinding at the mill. One will be taken and one will be left. Again, a startling surprise. Lastly, he tells about a thief who arrives at night, saying, “If the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into” (Matt. 24:43). In a sense, this is a time we can only await with vigilance. “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” (Matt. 24:44).

Wake up, look up, and live this day as if Christ is about to arrive. We say as much in the Nicene Creed. He is about to come to judge the living and the dead.

Living this way, we claim every moment as precious, every day as a gift, and everything a miracle. Christ is coming to us, to our hearts and our souls. He issues a call to vigilance. “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).

Rise up and look up. For behold, your Savior comes.

Look It Up: Psalm 122

Think About It: You are the house of the Lord, the place of his appearing.


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