1st Sunday of Advent (Luke 21:25-28, 34-36)
The 1st Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. Today we move from the year of Mark (B) to the year of Luke (C). We will begin this season by lighting the Advent candles. Traditionally, each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4000 years from Adam and Eve until the birth of Christ. The four candles symbolize, hope, love, joy and peace respectively. “well begun is half done”!
With the arrival of technology, innovation and modernization, one of the major problems human being face today is that lack of time. We don’t have enough time in a day. Therefore computer scientists have come up with a solution Zero wait state. If you are computer savvy, probably you have heard the phrase Zero wait state. It is a feature of a processor operates at a higher frequency than the memory. It means no waiting at all: you press the key, and the programme is instantly on the screen. Today we need fast computers for banking, accounting, shopping, etc. And the good news is that the computers are becoming faster and faster. But for the ordinary user, such high speed is required only to run games – which are themselves the greatest time-wasters. The speed of our world today is full of contradictions. We rush to save time in order to be able to waste it. Time is money, we say. And sure enough, we do with money what we do with time: many rush to save more and more money in order to waste it on things they don’t need or even want.
Can the equation or comparison be carried even farther? Time is money; but what is time? What is your time? It is you, it is yourself, your life. Time is life. Do we save our life in order to waste it? It seems we do. “Whoever tries to save his life will lose it,” said Jesus (Luke 17:37). We rush headlong into the future: it is a kind of greed for more and more life, or at least for more and more experience. The future, we feel, will fulfil us, where the past and present have failed. But we rush at it so fast that it gets no chance to fulfil us. We rush past it in the same instant that it becomes the present: because we are forever racing ourselves into the future. We badly need to study waiting. No one knows with certainty what the reason is for the high incidence of suicide and depression in modern western societies. People have made various suggestions. One suggestion is that we no longer know how to wait for anything. In older times, struggle and working for something and waiting for it to be realized, were the normal experience. It may be that ‘zero wait state’ has really got into us. Advent, the season of waiting, has something to teach us.
Waiting is one of the fundamental actions of the believer. In their captivity and exile, the Jewish people waited for the coming of the Messiah. And, in the fullness of time, He did come in the Person of Jesus Christ. And now, like the Hebrews did of old, we Christians wait for the triumphant return of the King. In the words spoken at every Holy Mass, “we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” With the eyes of faith, we know that Jesus Christ has encountered his passion and death and has been raised from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. But Christ will come again at the end of time to judge the living and the dead. Every Christian is called to wait for that inevitable, final day; to wait and to be ready by living lives of prayerful love and mercy.
In the early Christian community Jewish Christians had supposed that the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple would coincide with the end of the world. But the fall of Jerusalem came and went and the world did not end. But it brought about a big crisis of faith for the early Christians. Because the expected end of the world did not come with it, many of them gave up altogether their belief in the Second Coming of Christ. They quickly settled for earthly pleasures, like eating and drinking, and gave in to moral laxity. In the Gospel, St. Luke is giving a description of the end of the world saying, “there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, in the stars; anguish on earth; men will die of fear”. This description is not given to frighten us, but to make us aware of the urgency of being ready and vigilant for the day of the Lord.
The arrival of the Son of Man is a decisive moment for human beings as He comes to judge the living and the dead; he comes to separate the righteous from the unrighteous for their corresponding reward. During advent, in fact, in the very first Sunday of Advent, we are invited to be prepared and ready for the coming of Jesus. We are exhorted to be always awake and vigilant for we do not know the hour and the time of the arrival of the Son of Man. If you are living in the anticipation of Kingdom of God you have to have kingdom values. What are the kingdom values? We have to re-prioritize our values. That means, we must need to stop doing certain things that we are doing right now, and then start doing certain things that we are not doing right now. Whether you and I will have a successful Advent these next four weeks will depend on the attitude we bring to it today. We must stay awake, as Jesus advises us in this Gospel and practice self-control. The Greek philosopher, Plato, who lived out his life several centuries before Christ, wrote, “The greatest victory in the world is the victory of self-conquest.”
Before I conclude let me suggest something practical. A person once decided to make a small gesture: when he went to Mass, he started parking his car in the furthest spot so visitors could get a closer space, especially in the rain. That small gesture started influencing other aspects of his life. A little delayed gratification can go a long way. Patience, delayed gratification, is essential to our relationship to God and to each other.