Scripture Reflection First Sunday in Advent
"But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand." Jesus instructs his disciples to take this posture of confidence in the midst of a terribly disturbing situation. Describing his second coming, Jesus says that on seeing this event unfold, "People will die of fright." And yet the disciples are supposed to be pillars of strength. While others cower in fear, the Lord's followers are somehow immune, with heads raised high. Why? Well, presumably, because those who follow Christ--those who earn the distinction of being disciples--have nothing to fear. On the contrary, when they have to "stand before the Son of Man," it will be a happy occasion. But here's the catch: "disciple" is more than an empty title. If we want to be counted among this confident crew, there are a few things for us to do. Today's Gospel spells out these tasks, which are all perfect things to pursue during Advent. First, we have to make sure that our "hearts do not become drowsy." We are called to stay awake in a spiritual sense, not allowing "carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life" to numb us. We need to avoid whatever might reduce our ability to recognize and relate to Jesus, because we don't want his appearance to catch us "by surprise like a trap." Advent is an ideal time to examine our lives to determine what activities, priorities, or pastimes might be putting our hearts to sleep. Secondly, we need to pray. We need to ask Jesus himself for "the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man." We can't do it alone. But with Christ's help, we can be true, fearless disciples. © Liturgical Publications Inc.