Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’ ”
Advent, A Season of Discipline. Advent comes from the Latin word advenire, which means coming or arrival. The season is a time of intense preparation for Jesus’ coming. We first understand this coming as his birth in Bethlehem, which calls for a joyous celebration. Since it is a spiritual event, Christ’s coming demands of us a spiritual preparation that includes prayer and self-discipline.
The First Reading is the Israelites’ urgent prayer for God’s return. Has God gone away? Yes, in a way, God has left them because of their transgressions. God’s prolonged absence makes them feel that their life has become meaningless. The Israelites are invoking God to come back to remove their shame. Realizing their poverty and helplessness, they now desire for God’s return to support and affirm them.
The Gospel exhorts us to be watchful and alert. His second coming, at the end of the world, no one knows. We will be judged according to our deeds, and so we must be ready. Preparation means doing good deeds.
In the Second Reading, Paul expresses his joy for the Christians in Corinth. They have received the gospel message he has preached to them. They have lived disciplined and moral lives. Paul considers them well prepared for the day of the Lord.
How do we prepare for the Lord’s coming? We respond to God’s words and practice discipline. Let us not squander this time of preparation by engaging in activities that distract us from our heavenly goal. Let us return to God and show how God is in full control of our life, and that we can say “no” to the world that lures us away from God.
This Advent, let us concentrate on building up our capacity to love by reflecting on the Word of God, by asceticism and mortification, by receiving the sacraments, and by attending ongoing formation sessions like Advent retreats and recollections.
As Christmas time draws near, we are again being enticed by consumerism and commercialism. We are tempted to satisfy our appetites at different Christmas parties. Consumer goods will be dangled at very low prices, and we will be tempted to spend beyond our means. If we are not vigilant, we may end up feeling exhausted and shortchanged by the stressful season, we may not have the experience of the baby Jesus drawing close to us on Christmas and receiving the salvation he brings.
Let us prepare rigorously, exercise discipline, and pray. To welcome Christ in our midst, let us make Advent a season of discipline and prayer.
Source: “365 Days with the Lord 2017,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.