Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

First Sunday of Advent

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Luke 21: 25-28. 34-36

“Stay awake, praying at all times”

Today we begin the season of Advent - a season of new beginnings and therefore of some endings as well. Hence the choice of the Gospel reading in which Jesus paints some colourful cosmic images of the end-time. They are figurative ways of indicating a turning point, a time for endings to make way for new beginnings. Even “the powers of heaven will be shaken”, says Jesus, “and then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”. It is a time not so much to be feared as prepared for “because your liberation is close at hand”. And that is the call of this season of Advent for each one of us – to prepare for a new beginning in Christ.

It is, then a time for reflection, to recognise within our own lives a potential turning point leading to a newly enriched pattern of life. Perhaps I need to revise some of the priorities that govern my day-to-day living and to ask afresh what really does matter to me and direct my choices in life? Or maybe I ought to examine my use of time - for family, for relationships, for work, for leisure? It’s so easy, without realising, to slide into ways of living that can be harmful to what should matter most. It may well be that there are elements within our own lives that need to be checked, that call for some sort of ending to make way for a new beginning.

Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas, for the celebration of the birth of Christ which happened 2000 years ago. At another level it is a time in which we look forward “waiting in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ” at the end of time. At yet another level it is a time that emphasises the importance of the present moment, to “stay awake, praying at all times”. We look back in thanksgiving and we look forward in hope precisely to help us right now to be alert and responsive to the coming of Christ into our lives, a coming that demands of us some time for quiet, to pray, to be still, and to know that He is Lord.