Waiting For The Redeemer, 27TH NOVEMBER, 2016

Today is the First Sunday of Advent and it marks the beginning of a new year in the Church liturgy celebration of the mysteries of Christ, our Redeemer. A new liturgical year begins, a new season begins, new colors decorate the sanctuary, and the advent wreath and candles are dusted off and set up. We both wait for the final judgment and also for the coming of the Christ child to enter the world as our savior. The term “Advent,” which means coming or arrival, is used especially in connection with the first coming of Christ at his birth, and also in looking forward to his second coming at the end of time. In the readings of the last few Sundays, and in particular today’s, we find a tremendous yearning for the coming of a Redeemer, a Messiah. Advent also is a time when we should call upon God to renew us in heart and soul, so that we may be able to celebrate his divine Sons coming among us in a truly religious way. He comes to visit each of us personally, to grant our inmost needs, to keep us, as St Paul tells us, steady and without blame until the last day, so that we may be witnesses to his presence before the whole world. There is a clear message for us, as well, in the gospel parable of the man who set off to travel abroad, after warning his servants, whom he had left in charge, to watch out for his return. This is a definite reference to the Ascension of Jesus into heaven, and to his expected second coming, what the first Christians called the “parousia.” The punch of today’s message is to be watchful, to be alert; for one does not know when the lord of the house plans on returning. The Advent readings invite us to be vigilant, to be ready to receive the Lord who is coming. In today’s first reading we get a glimpse of the difficulty people face when their waiting for God seems to be in vain. Today’s gospel tells us that the Redeemer comes, but we have to be vigilant. Those who sleep will remain in sin, and will be ransomed. We are between two times: between the first coming of Jesus and his second coming on the last day. We remember the first; we wait for the second. And today’s gospel tells us how to wait. We must wait together and stay awake by living the values of the redeemer in our own place and time. This is a time to open our hearts and invite the Lord to come and bring us to completion. These coming weeks we will pray for this spirit of hopeful anticipation, the watchfulness of a genuinely Advent people. May we pray that the Lord may grant us peace “as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ”