We begin the season of Advent this Sunday. Jesus is Coming! He came over two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, of course, but he said he would come again, at the end of time.
“He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will be without end.” In the Our Father, we pray: “Your kingdom come.” “We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ,” we say at Mass.
Joyful hope. Waiting in “joyful” hope means having a larger, long-term vision to sustain and strengthen us through our days. A joyful hope keeps dreams for something better for our world and ourselves alive.
A joyful hope saves us from small-mindedness, from being dragged down by failure, from being pulled a deadening present.
Deliver us from the days of Noah, this Sunday’s gospel says. “…In the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.” The days of Noah are “same old, same old” days, nothing’s happening, nothing’s going on. “Turn on the Television,” “Have a beer,” The days of Noah are days of blinding routine.
In the days of Noah we need to be lifted up: “When you’re down and out, lift up your head and shout, there’s gonna be a great day!” That’s what Advent does, it proclaims a Great Day.
While I was staying at Bethany last week, I met some fundamentalist Protestants who support the establishment of the State of Israel so that Jesus will return and God’s kingdom will finally come. They believe God has given the Jews all the land of ancient Palestine by a solemn biblical decree and when they take possession of it, human history comes to a victorious end. They believe Christians have to do all they can to hasten this coming by prayer and political action.
I disagreed with them. I don’t think God’s kingdom will come because a people take over a piece of land. Jesus seems to say that in Sunday’s gospel.
“Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”
Staying awake is what we have to do, and it’s harder to stay awake than to take over land.