Prepare for the Lord’s Coming

The time is drawing near, the Lord is coming soon!

Advent is a time of preparation and hopeful anticipation. In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Christmas but before engaging in the celebration, let us examine our readiness to welcome the Savior. Like Mary and the prophets of long ago, we eagerly await His birth that will bring joy to this weary world. The prophets Isaiah and John the Baptist have a simple advice for us: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.” (Mk. 1: 3b)

The preparation for Christmas requires us to “straighten His paths”, such that,

“Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.” (Is. 40: 4)

We are hopeful because our separation from God is about to end. The time of exile – the long separation of humankind from God due to sin – is about to be finished. The Prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading promises Israel’s release from captivity and exile because of God’s mercy and compassion. In many of the chapters between Chapters 40 and 53, God constantly has Isaiah speak about Jesus’ role as savior. God talks through this prophet to explain how He will liberate His people from sin and evil. Yahweh also said that He would lead the people back to holiness and righteousness.

In today’s Gospel we realize that Israel’s liberation was actually a portent of coming events. St. John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins — a herald of an even greater saving act by God through His Son Jesus Christ. This, as well as Isaiah’s prophecy; show that throughout history, Israel looks forward to the revelation of the Savior. In Jesus, God has filled in the symbolic valley that divided sinful humanity from Himself. God’s goodness and infinite love has reached down from Heaven, as we sing in today’s Psalm,

“I will hear what God proclaims; the LORD—for He proclaims peace to His people. Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.” (Ps. 85: 9-10)

Take note that God has done this not only for mankind in general, but for each one of us. God cares! As St. Peter in the Second Reading reminds us that this is a personal call, and that we, God’s beloved; shouldn’t ignore this fact (2 Pt. 3: 8). Like the people of the whole Judean countryside and of Jerusalem going to John the Baptist, let us prepare well for the Savior’s coming and pray heartily that may His grace remove any spot or blemish in us (2 Pt. 3: 14).

May we go to the Lord and acknowledge our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Only then can we truly say we prepared the way of the Lord!

“Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” (Ps. 85: 8)

The Need to be Watchful

Driving one morning on the way to the office, I saw the aftermath of an accident which happened a few minutes before. I saw the dead body of a tricycle passenger who was seated on the back of the driver. What I saw was graphically terrible, and my knees was shaking the rest of the way. Various thoughts hounded me: “When the person left home that morning, was he able to say goodbye to his family?” Did the loved ones have any inkling that that would be the last time they saw their loved one alive?”

How fleeting life is, that in an instant it can be extinguished just like that! In the Gospel today, Jesus said to his disciples:

“Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.” (Mk. 13: 33)

The Lord emphasizes the need for watchfulness. Just last year, a religious sect warned that
America and Europe will be plunged into darkness by a solar eclipse in 2017 – and then the world will end. When the appointed time came, nothing happened. As Jesus has repeatedly said that only the Father knows the exact hour, the Son of Man will come without warning. The disciples must not be caught unprepared when this time comes. So, in this Advent Season, a season of preparation and repentance, we should heed the warning – repeated three times by our Lord in today’s Gospel – to be watchful, for we know not the hour when the Lord of the Universe will come. As Christians, we too must be alert and be ready for the Savior’s return. Our life must be dedicated to preparing and staying alert by living a life of faithfulness and readiness.

A good way to prepare and being ready is to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5: 17). Our first thoughts in the morning should be to pray to give thanks and express our gratitude to the Father. We should pray before leaving home and then pray before work. There are many moments during the day that we can give time for prayer: before making a decision, during moments of stress, temptation, in times of problems with health, and even when we realize that we’ve done something wrong. If it is serious, we have to seek forgiveness from God and the Church through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

As we begin the Liturgical Year, it is a time of waiting, a time of the expectant coming of the Lord. During this season, let our waiting times be spent in prayer. While waiting to drive or ride public transport, while waiting to attend a meeting, or while waiting for somebody, take the time to pray. Wait for the Lord, pray always. Only then can we say we are watchful and being faithful to the real meaning of Advent.

“Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” (Ps. 80: 4)