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First Sunday – Year C – Advent
Readings: Jer 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36.
1/ First Reading: NAB Jeremiah 33:14 The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. 16 In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The LORD our justice.”
2/ Second Reading: NAB 1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, 13 so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. (Amen.) 4:1 Finally, brothers, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God– and as you are conducting yourselves– you do so even more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
3/ Gospel: NAB Luke 21:25 “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26 People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” 34 “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise 35 like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. 36 Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
I. THEME: Waiting and preparing for Christ’s second coming
Today, the Church guides us to the Advent, the season of looking and waiting for Christ’s second coming.
– Not as the wife who waited for her husband on the mountain and became a stone because her husband never comes back; the Christians wait for the certain thing to happen because it is God’s promise.
– Not as the wife who waited for her husband and became a stone because she didn’t do anything; the Christians actively prepare while waiting by praying and continuously advancing.
Today readings guide us to look back to the history of salvation in order to recognize our ancestors’ waiting for Christ’s first coming and what they did while waiting. In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed God’s oracle, “I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah,” to provide the hope for the Israelites who were living in exile due to sins of kings as well as people. According to God’s promise, He shall give His people the Messiah who comes from king David’s lineage to govern people in justice and love. In the second reading, St. Paul reminded the Thessalonians what they have to do while waiting for Christ’s second coming: They must have charity, be firm before trials and sufferings, and continually practice virtues so that they should become pure, holy and worthy of God’s salvation. In the Gospel, Jesus revealed for people about the day that he shall return to judge and to reward them. Depending on the preparation, people shall have different attitudes about that day. If they don’t prepare, they shall greatly fear because they must face God’s judgment and punishment; but if they prepare and follow Christ’s teaching, that day shall be joyful because they shall receive their salvation.
1/ Reading I: The Israelites patiently waited and prepared for Christ’s first coming.
1.1/ God never forgot what He promised: The prophet Jeremiah lived in a very difficult period of the Jewish history: their nation was divided in two, kings turned their backs to God and their faces to foreign gods and they unjustly treated people. Because of this lifestyle, the Northern Kingdom which is Israel felt into the hands of the Assyrian Empire and went on exile in 721 BC. The Southern Kingdom which is Judah also felt into the hands of the Babylonian Empire and went on exile in 587 BC. During the Israelites’ exile, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to console and to encourage His people. He reminded them of God’s promises with their forefathers: “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.”
1.2/ The Messiah shall come from David’s lineage.
(1) David’s lineage shall govern forever: During the exile, the Israelites doubted God’s promise with King David: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever” (2 Sam 7:16, 1 Chr 17:13, Psa 89:29-30). To them, the Judah’s reign was ended as a tree cut to its root. If this things were happened, David’s lineage should be ended, and God’s promise about David’s lineage shall govern forever would also ended!
God doesn’t promise and blindly keeps it so Judah kings can be confident and said that since they had God’s promise, they can freely live as they want. God shall expel all Judah’s descendants because He is righteous. But Jeremiah absolutely believed in God’s promise and he gave people a hope: “In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land.”
(2) The Messiah’s reign: If the Israelites were governed by a wise, holy and righteous king as David, people would be prosperous and lived in peace; in opposition, if they were governed by dull, sinful and disloyal kings as they were in both kingdoms before the exiles, they were ravaged by war, poverty-stricken and death.
The prophet Jeremiah promised that when the reign of Messiah comes, everything shall change: “In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The Lord our justice.””
2/ Reading II: St. Paul prepared for the Thessalonians to welcome Christ’s second coming.
2.1/ Things they need to do: St. Paul listed out three important things which they must do:
(1) The important of charity: He wrote: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you.”Charity is the foundation of all laws and the standard of God’s judgment (Cf. Mt. 25). It is no surprise when Paul reminded his faithful of this obligation.
(2) Must be patient and firm: Since people are easy to give up when they have to wait for a long time or face trials and sufferings; they must learn how to be patient and firm with themselves and others.
(3) Practice virtues to become holy: You must “be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.” Learning virtues is the effective way to eliminate sins in our life and to become holy as God requires.
2.2/ They must advance everyday: Human life must constantly be progressed. If they don’t they shall be lag behind. Therefore, if God let one live longer in this life, he should be advanced and holy. If he does that, he shall not need lots of time to be purified in the purgatory. But if he lives long and doesn’t practice virtues, his sins shall increase more and more,he shall have to be purified longer in the purgatory.
3/ Gospel: “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
We can differentiate three main periods of the history of salvation: Firstly, the Israelites were chosen by God to prepare for Christ’s first coming. This was announced many times by the prophets of the Old Testament and happened. Secondly, it is Christ’s living on earth. He himself announced God’s plan of salvation and brought this plan to perfection. He also announced that he shall come the second time to judge, to reward or to punish. This shall certainly be happened because it is God’s promise. Thirdly, it is our present situation. One thing we need to be conscious about is we can die before Christ’s second coming. The day of our death is the last day of our life; therefore, everytime when the Advance comes, we must examine our life to see that if Christ actually comes to our soul or not, and what we have done to prepare ourselves to meet him again. Today, Luke’s passage concentrated on two main things.
3.1/ Two attitudes one can has when Christ comes: Facing the accident thing, one may have one of these two attitudes:
(1) Fearful attitude: Jesus foretold people what shall happen in the Last Day, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Fear happens because people aren’t ready to face Christ; they fear of Christ and his punishments for them.
(2) Peaceful attitude: In opposition, if people are ready to welcome Christ, they shall be happy to see him and joyful because what they are looking for in all their life shall be fulfilled, as Christ encourages us, “When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
3.2/ What people must do to prepare for Christ’s second coming: Not only Christ revealed for people about his second coming, but he also taught them what to do and what to avoid.
(1) What people must do: “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” People need to be vigilant to recognize the truth from many falsities surrounding them before they can find effective ways to live according to the truth. People can’t recognize truths if they don’t frequently pray. When they pray, they ask God to enlighten their mind to recognize dangers of the three enemies, to give them strength and grace to overcome them.
(2) What people must avoid: Jesus listed out two most dangerous enemies of human beings: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surpriselike a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth.” Firstly, carousing and drunkenness make people tired and heavy so that they don’t have wisdom and power to do what God wants. There are many examples in human history which show that when one wants to destroy his enemy, he shall let that people to be caroused and drunken to the point that he can’t use his reason anymore; at that time, it is easy to get rid of him (Cf. Judith). Secondly, the anxieties of daily life include many areas such as: vainglory, power, material gains or fleshy desires. All these things can cause people to lose their interest on the heavenly treasure, as Jesus warned, “where is your treasure, there is your mind.”
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We should learn from the Israelites when they prepared to welcome Christ’s first coming so we know how to prepare for Christ’s second coming.
– We must be patient, firm in our faith, avoiding sins and practicing virtues so that we shall be holy and worthy of God’s salvation.
– We must be vigilant and prayful; at the same time, to avoid carousing and drunkeness and to get rid of worldly anxieties.
– The important questions for us in preparing ourselves for Christ’s second coming: Does Christ reign in our soul? Do we do what he teaches us to prepare?