Edward Hicks [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
First Sunday of Advent
Reflections on the Readings
The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the Church’s joyful anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child. As we await this blessed celebration, our readings remind us that the little Child in the manger is destined to be Lord and King. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the Most High Lord who will come to judge between the nations, while the Evangelists urge us to “awake from sleep… For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus also warns His disciples to be prepared for “the coming of the Son of Man” in a passage which is often misunderstood. The idea of a “Rapture” in which true believers are whisked away to heaven while the rest are left behind to face a time of tribulation has taken root in modern culture, leading to the popularity of the “Left Behind” stories and movies. But this popular interpretation does not reflect a Catholic understanding of the Gospel message.
In the Biblical flood, Noah and his family were the ones “left behind” to build a new world in harmony with God’s laws, while those who rejected God’s commandments were swept away. Jesus is telling His disciples that now is the time to start building the ark of obedience. Knowing that many will ignore His warning but desiring all to be saved, Jesus warns His followers to be prepared even though they do not know the day He will come, just as Noah started building the ark in dry weather.
Jesus does not want us to fearful, but to be faithful. Be prepared to listen to His voice, following His commandments which will keep us safe even from the flood waters, so that we might enter into His Kingdom of peace. Let us prepare our hearts for the coming of the little Child who is also the King of heaven and earth.
Readings for the First Sunday of Advent, November 27th, 2016:
Is 2:1-5 - Rom 13:11-14 - Mt 24:37-44