We have started a new year! The Church starts its year on the First Sunday of Advent. During this coming year, we will be reading from the Gospel of St Luke. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of the Lord. The Church, gives us again the opportunity to take stock of what we are doing. If during the last weeks or months, we have put our faith aside, the Church again encourages us to wake up and be vigilant so that when the time comes, we will be ready to “stand before the Son of man.”
What is this coming of Jesus that we need to prepare ourselves for? Today’s Gospel theme, is similar to the one of two Sundays ago. It speaks about our preparation for the moment when we will meet Jesus face to face. Advent reminds us that we should not only remember when Jesus was born in Bethlehem but also that every day, we are invited to welcome him in our lives and hearts. We also welcome Jesus daily, in those whom we meet. Whatever we do to others, we are doing it to Jesus. This is our preparation for our meeting with Jesus.
As Christians we believe that our life does not end with our last breath on earth. We believe that after this life we will live in the glory of Heaven. However, as Jesus says, although no one knows the time or day, we need to prepare from now, no matter our age.
The first sentences of today’s Gospel are frightening. Nevertheless, if we are prepared, this fear quickly changes into joy and hope, because as Jesus says, “your redemption is at hand.” Jesus does not want to scare us, he only wants us to be vigilant, we should not postpone what we have to do, until it may be too late. Jesus does not want that the distractions around us, attract us so much, that we fall into their trap and we will not be ready to “stand before the Son of man.” Jesus wants to save us all. Jesus paid for our freedom, when he died on the cross. He wants us to enjoy this freedom, by being prepared, by being ready for his coming.
How can we prepare ourselves? We need to stop and evaluate our life. We live in a rush, from one thing to another. In all this haste, what is our focal point? Who is leading us? On what do we base our decisions and actions? Are we finding time, each day, to stop and be with the Lord? Jesus warns us to not overdo things. He mentions excessive partying and drinking, together with anxieties. The anxieties of daily life may rob us of hope and the will to live. Jesus tells us that prayer will give us the strength we need to have the will “to escape the tribulations that are imminent.” Prayer helps us overcome the anxiety we may feel because of the decisions we need to take or because of situations that we are going through. Jesus does not promise us that we will not face the daily worries, he promises instead, that if we focus on him, if we trust him and pray, we will have the strength to face difficult and challenging situations. Through prayer, we will also be able to decide what is truly important and what is of value to us and our family.