As we begin the Season of Advent this Sunday and prepare to celebrate the birthday of our Savior, Jesus Christ, He warns of terrifying signs to come with two contrasting images in the Gospel of Saint Luke (21:25-36): those who will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming; and those who raise their heads awaiting their redemption. What sets the second group apart? A humble self-awareness that leads them to pray and to be faithful to God. In other words, unless I experience and admit my sinfulness, my emptiness, my inability, that persistent wound and lack of completeness that characterizes my very existence, I will never admit to needing the Savior and will not be faithful. If we are not being faithful and seeking the Savior, then Jesus Christ becomes just a name, just a word.
In another Gospel (John 6:37), Jesus says: “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” Therefore, we have no reason to fear the coming of our Lord, as long as we are sincerely begging for and faithfully awaiting His coming. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has pity on us, on our need for Him, and He is always moved by our begging: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). We are not among the people who “will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world.” Why? Because we are striving, by God’s grace, to be faithful to God, in and through His Church, Word, Sacraments, and our daily prayer, united with the One who has come into the world to rescue us and dwells among us. By God’s grace, we are responding to Our Lord whose Presence strengthens us to be blameless in holiness before God.
Jesus tells us this First Sunday of Advent to pray for the strength to stand before the Son of Man, to be vigilant at all times. Our strength is from God, in our prayer and in our being faithful to Him. This Advent, in all our weakness and sin, let us stay prayerfully watchful as Jesus instructs us to do. May we spend our Advent and beyond with the desire to conduct ourselves in a way that pleases God – for “the friendship of the Lord” (Psalm 25) moves us to want to rise above the anxieties of daily life so as to remain in peaceful certainty before Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2). May we go to the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist and experience His grace, strength and healing Presence. For if we pray as faithful beggars before the Son of Man, then His power will be made perfect in our weakness – all for the greater Glory of God.
With peace and prayers in Christ,