In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent, Jesus tells his disciples to prepare for the Day of the Lord. “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into” (Matthew 24: 42-43). Advent is a Christian wake up call. Advent readies us for the celebration of Emmanuel, God with us. We watch everyday for the presence of God. We remain alert to the will of God. Acting on God’s behalf, we become Jesus for others. We do God’s will feeding a hungry family, reconciling with an alienated relative or friend, seeking help for an addiction, praying more often, and more. For what is God waking you up this Advent?
In the Gospel for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, Jesus is is put to death with two criminals. One mocks him. The other asks for mercy. ” ‘And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied to him, ‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’ ” (Luke 23: 41-43). The repentant criminal has deep faith in Jesus. He believes Jesus has the authority to pardon him. Jesus has mercy on him. He promises the repentant criminal life hereafter. Jesus has the authority to pardon us too. Lately I am regretting the mistakes I have made as a sibling and as a parent. I can become spiritually paralyzed worrying about my past. Or like the repentant criminal, I can acknowledge sorrow for them and ask God for mercy. For what do you need God’s mercy?
In the Gospel for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus foretells persecution for his disciples. “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives” (Luke 21: 16-19). Aware that his enemies were plotting against him, Jesus anticipated the same for his disciples. He urged them to persevere in their faith. Christians daily experience crises that challenge faith: cancer diagnosis, jaundiced new born, sudden death of a loved one, loss of job, violence in the news, persecution of Christians overseas, racist and xenophobic rhetoric, and more. Jesus wants us to persevere. He reassures us God stands with us. A victim of persecution, Jesus compassionately accompanies us. As God raised Jesus from the dead, God secures our lives in this world and the next. How has God helped you perservere through a crisis?
In the Gospel for the Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus converses with the Sadducees about life after death. To disprove life after death, they pose to Jesus an absurd case about a women widowed seven times. They want to know who her husband will be in the after life. Jesus reminds them about Moses. “That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called out ‘Lord,’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive” (Luke 20: 37-38). Jesus has confidence in the life giving power of God. God is the God of the living. God sustains our lives on earth and sustains the dead in resurrected life. I am becoming ever more grateful to God for living everyday. I give thanks to God for my living breath, the shining sun, the changing seasons, my loving family, and more. As God sustains me now, I believe God will sustain me somehow after my death. How does your confidence in God’s loving care give you hope for your resurrection from the dead?