The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
December 5th, 2021 – Second Sunday of Advent - Luke 3:1-6
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Now that we are well into the Advent season, we can ask ourselves what exactly are we waiting for? The coming of whom or what? That’s the meaning of the word, Advent. A coming of something special. Many think of this as the coming of Christmas Day. Perhaps, we look forward to seeing family and friends, the exchange of gifts, the sharing that often takes place around Christmas. But we can also focus on a deeper meaning of the feast, the coming of Christ into our world.
Recall that there are three arrivals of Christ that are part of this Advent season. The first is the Incarnation or the actual birth of Christ in Bethlehem. The second focuses on Christ coming into our daily lives. And the third is often referred to as the final coming.
Today’s gospel positions his birth in the historical record (made specific by naming the rulers at that time). We recall his first arrival over two-thousand years ago at a particular time and place. This description contrasts with narratives that often begin with a phrase like “once upon a time.” Luke’s gospel presents the description of Christ’s coming at a specific time and place. In the same kind of time that we live in, a time with a date, a specific moment under the conditions on Earth at that time. A good question is whether that first coming was God’s only entry into human history. Or is there more? There is!
That brings us into reflection on the second kind of spiritual coming, namely Christ coming to each of us during our lifetime. And just like his first coming, we might be able to locate this coming at a specific place and date. This coming can happen at any time in our lives – and hopefully, more than once. And attention to everyday divine coming should be our major concern during this season of Advent. For me, Advent is the best season for quiet prayer.
Lastly, there is the final coming of Christ. And we can think about this coming in two ways. The ancients liked to describe this third coming in the religious language of their time. Scholars called this approach “apocalyptic.” It was imagined as a mighty entrance of Christ in spectacular fashion. Christ’s coming would initiate “the end of the world.” But we can also think of this as the end of our own lives when we will meet God in Christ face to face. This is our greatest hope. To be united with God and all those with whom we shared life on Earth. We can hardly imagine anything greater that this wonderful family reunion.
©David M. Thomas, PhD