The Coming of the Saviour
In this short homily for 1st Sunday of Advent, Year A, Father Hanly asks why we prepare for Christmas with a reading about the Second Coming.
Readings for First Sunday of Advent, Year A
- First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
- Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14
- Gospel: Matthew 24:37-44
You’d think that the proper way to open the celebration of Christmas would be with lots of singing and dancing, feasting and making merry to give a fitting welcome for the coming of the Christ Child, the Messiah, the coming of our Lord and our Saviour.
And instead what do we get?
Advent: the story of Noah and the end of his world, with a warning to be on guard against complacency, to be vigilant, to stay awake, and be ready lest the end of the world catch you by surprise.
And we stop and think, how can this be a fitting celebration for the lovely gift of God, the coming of the Christ Child, our Messiah and Saviour? Except that remembering past mistakes and regretting them can be for us all a healthy guideline guaranteeing a safer future.
Advent is a time to prepare ourselves now for the end of this world as we know it, and to reach out to the new world about to be born. And that is one reason why we celebrate the coming of the Christ Child who is the beginning of a new understanding of God’s will.
God’s work is never complete, more akin to constant change, and we move forward along with Him, often in joy, sometimes in sorrow but always with His tender and lasting love.
Now as we approach the ‘end’ times, we may be full of dark fears, but we forget that Jesus is always with us now, protecting us, reminding us not to be afraid, for he has indeed conquered the world. The end of this world is only the beginning of the next one, and perhaps the next world may hold the promise of lasting peace, joy and happiness in the new year now and through all eternity.
And we have been chosen, even before we were born into this world, to “work in the vineyard of the Lord.”
And so this end of the never quite ending world is all about the ‘old world’ dying and the new world being born again… Jesus, who comes as a child, helpless and needy, but always with us as a companion in our journeying home to the Father.
And why do we speak of the Second Coming if it’s only another Christmas?
A Child is born, weak, frail and in need of loving care. It’s only the first step of the journey for the child, but Christmas is the annual sign of the beginning of our salvation, of our healing, of our understanding and confirming of who we really are, the Children of a loving Father.
The Second Coming is given to us in eschatological fashion. It’s the end-time, the end of the world, of course, and God wins.
With all the terrible happenings around us, we sometimes think that living in this life is not worth all the bother. But it is more than that, for out of the pain and out of the sorrows of the past, God moulds His own future with every bit of past tears and present sorrows that go with it. God changes them to help them realise that this was the stuff out of which He used to create His own Son’s sacrifice.
And so at the end of the world, Jesus comes in glory on angel’s wings, calling all the peoples together and thus a new world begins. And that should give us all reasons for hope.
But the best is left for last and it’s the one we should pay most attention to, which is another kind of Coming. The Coming of Advent. Advent doesn’t mean Jesus came down to save us and returned home, although he did that. “The Son of God was made man and dwelt amongst us,” and he is here to stay. “From now to the end of time, I will be with you and you will be my people.”
And that’s a promise, God’s promise.