“Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark13:35-37)
We enter into the Advent season this week, but the world is already in full Christmas season mode. People are partying to excess; ads for merchandise of various and sundry types flood the media; even a overabundance of charitable organizations exhort us to give to those less fortunate then we, often using shame or flattery to motivate us. It is all so pointless and disgusting except for those who profit from it. It denigrates and obscures the true meaning of Christmas.
We the Church are called to celebrate the season in a way that is opposed to those in the world. We take time in Advent to celebrate the first coming of our Lord Jesus into the world, as a human baby. In our gospel reading, however, our focus is on the second coming of the Lord when He returns to judge the world, purge it of sin, and make all things new. The language and imagery used by Jesus certainly evoke the prophets who spoke of the great Day of the Lord, a day which the Lord intervenes in history in a powerful and significant way.
What Jesus was foretelling was an unbelievable, calamitous event of epic proportions that would change the world forever. This concerned the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD by the Romans. Many Jews would be slaughtered, while the rest would either be enslaved or dispersed throughout the world. When the destruction actually occurred, those viewing it, Jews and Christians alike would think it was the end of the world.
As far as Christmas is concerned we can see that as The Day of the Lord as well. We do not often think of Christmas in such a way. We think of it as silent and holy, with few people around to see and welcome the birth. That was in the natural realm. In the supernatural realm, however, that first Christmas shook up not just the world, but the entire universe as well. The angels proclaimed the message of God’s mighty work to the shepherds abiding in the field. On that first Christmas God intervened in a miraculous and mighty way that was to culminate in the destruction of evil, death and Satan some 3 decades later on the cross when Jesus died for our sins. God’s promises will always come to pass for they are always sure and certain no matter what the rest of the world believes or how the wicked seem to prosper. Therefore we are to await the Lord’s Second Coming with hope and patience.