C Cycle – 1st Sunday of Advent 21
Lk. 21:25-28, 34-36
As we enter a new liturgical year with Advent it is common for Catholic’s worldwide to believe it is a short period to help us focus on the coming of Christ into the world. That is not an incorrect approach to Advent, but it is lacking in its focus only on the birth of Christ. Advent viewed only on the Incarnate Word made flesh and this great gift of love from God limits our response to one of wonder, awe, and thanks. Advent is a time move us beyond the birth of Christ to a response of desiring a oneness with Christ which transforms us and prepares us for encountering him on that final day
The birth of Christ is one piece of a master plan by God to remove the barrier of sin separating us from developing intimacy with God. The birth of Christ is just one piece of a puzzle, which we are to complete. It is like sitting with a picture puzzle with someone helping us put together the beginning pieces then leaving us alone to complete it. We need to spend time to study that first piece because it helps us look for the next interlocking piece. This one piece was given to us to give us a glimpse of the grand design. It should motivate us to find the other pieces and challenge us not to walk away. We need to move beyond wonder and awe to desire to see what God has in store for us.
We should take the time to reflect on Christ’s birth and learn from it how the rest of the puzzle fits together revealing how we are to respond to God. That is why our first gospel today is the end of the story not the beginning. Advent is a time to embrace the grace of God’s love and move us to be more attentive as God reveals to us each piece of his plan for us. The essence of that plan is for us to desire Christ coming rather than fear it. This Sunday we are given the opportunity to move beyond Christmas to a journey into God’s heart and ultimate union with God. Advent calls us not to be like the people of Bethlehem on the night of Christ birth, unaware of what was going on in that manger.
How are we going to respond to the gift of Jesus Christ? This is not a rhetorical question but a real one inviting each of us to consider how we responded last Christmas, or the Christmas before that. Are we going to stay with Christ long enough to listen to the prophets revealing to us the truth of who Jesus is and why he came? Are we going to be like ancient Israel and ignore the signs pointing to Christ and demanding a response from us? How many days, months and years will we keep the coming of Christ as an isolated historical event and not as the first piece of a grand plan by God to restore us to a position of sons and daughters worthy of intimacy with God.
We are individual and personally called to respond to the coming of Jesus and that call is one we will never comprehend until we begin to put the pieces together. One piece at a time, just as the disciples learned to respond. We start with a belief he is the sacrifice for our sins and by his death and resurrection we are made holy in God’s sight. We may not grasp the enormity of that act of love, just as the disciples did not fully grasp God’s plan even when they encountered the resurrected Lord. But that does not mean they gave up trying to understand. Their struggles show us how important it is for us to desire to experience encountering Christ and how much we need to walk that same journey of discovering. We need to each day, each week, each month from now on desire to encounter Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Advent is the first step we must take in our journey to grasp the full meaning of our destiny. Advent is our invitation to cast our nets into the deep. It is our invitation to step out of the boat and walk in faith. It is our invitation to follow him and learn from him. It is our invitation to do more than adore him. Advent is God inviting us to consider the fullness of our call to discipleship and spend time walking with, talking wit, and responding to Christ.
He is the only way to the Father and his desire is to embrace us not to have us look upon him and see beyond the child in the manger. Each of us is invited to experience the fullness of his divinity and welcome him now and at the hour of our death.