The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
December 1, 2019 – First Sunday of Advent - Matthew 24:36-44
When I was a youngster, I was beset with two giant fears. One related to what I had learned in my religion class. It was about “the end of the world.” Jesus as judge would come atop the clouds and pronounce a judgment on each one of us. Including me! That was scary enough for this eight-year-older. Second, like many others, I feared an attack by our primary enemy of that time, Communist Russia. I had even set up a small bomb shelter in the basement of our family home. These two possible events lived deep within me and if I thought about them, I was one scared little boy.
Today's gospel reminds me of those early fears, although I now see things differently. As I hear about the coming of “the Son of Man” – a reference originally to the coming of the Messiah – I know that the Messiah has already come and remains with us to this day. As the gospel puts it in another place, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” It has already begun with the coming of Christ. To use current language, “It’s now operational.” So, in hearing that important message in the gospel for today, we are to “stay awake” to the presence of God in our lives right now. No matter how busy we are, God is there, right next to us or within us, as our creator, support and friend.
But to be aware of this miracle is far from easy. There are so many other things to think about than the presence of God’s Spirit among us. It’s hard to remain aware that all the good that we do, however small, contributes our share to the New Creation.
After all, there’s all that’s happening these days in the world of politics and economics. There’s our favorite sports teams to follow. Christmas is coming. We need to “shop ‘til we drop.” And all those decorations waiting our attention. And not least, there are often serious health concerns involving both ourselves, and those we love. And there never seems enough money. We can easily be filled with many worries and concerns. And fears.
In other words, we are perfect candidates who should listen to today’s gospel invitation, “Stay awake.” Be aware that we are in God’s hands and under God’s care. We are loved no matter what. If we stray from God’s path, God’s mercy will bring us back on track. We are invited to trust God more than Wall Street or Pennsylvania Avenue. We are called to be persons or peace rather than harried shoppers filled with the worries of the season. It’s called “the Advent season” which means that the God who loves each of us very much not only promised to come and be with us but has already done so. What’s needed is our awareness and gratitude for God’s faithful promise to be with us.
©David M. Thomas, PhD