December 2, First Sunday of Advent.
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14
2) I Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
Gospel) Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
It’s not often I get a clear view of the night sky, but on a recent evening I was out in the Texas Hill Country under a full moon so low I felt I could almost touch it. Its beauty was made even more spectacular by occasional banks of clouds, veiling and then unveiling its luminous face. As I watched them pass, time seemed to stop as I sensed God’s presence and was moved to praise Him for such a delightful gift.
The moon and stars in today’s Gospel have quite the opposite effect. The heavens Jesus describes are in such disarray that “people will die of fright” in anticipation of the tribulation to come. For centuries, Christians have i interpreted the revelation of apocalyptic writings in a variety of ways - often as terrifying omens of the end of the world.
Advent is the season in which we as the Church reflect on Christ’s coming to us in human history, but we don’t
simply consider the past event of his birth, nor do we focus solely on his victorious appearance at the end of time.
We are also advised to be aware of his “presence in the present,” to be “vigilant at all times,” not simply because the world as we know it is passing away, but because it is our human folly to imagine time as a commodity to be consumed, controlled, hoarded, or squandered at our inclination.
For our ancestors - who measured time by the movements of the sun, moon, and stars - the shaking of the heavens would be akin to all our clocks stopping at once. The idea that the God of eternity will forever wait patiently while we continue to indulge ourselves in “carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life” is simply unbiblical and foolish. Time isn’t “mine” to own; the world of my existence will come to an unexpected end
that I do not choose.
The clouds that I watched that autumn evening will one day, according to the Scriptures, bear the Son of Man as
he returns in “power and great glory.” In the meantime, let us be mindful, as St. Paul says, of God’s present gift of time - an opportunity to “increase and abound in love for one another and for all.”
Has a moment of wonder or worship ever caused time to stand still for you? Do you ever fool yourself, thinking your time belongs only to you?