Advent - Preparing our hearts for the Second Coming of Jesus

Meditation and Reflection for Advent

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Advent is not only about preparing for the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. We live between the first coming of Jesus when he was born at Bethlehem and his Second Coming at the end of time when he will come as Judge of all. Advent is also a time for us to reflect on the Second Coming of Jesus. So Advent is concerned with the two comings of Jesus; our preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth and our preparation for his Second Coming. In two of the Eucharistic Acclamations we profess our faith in Jesus’ Second Coming:

We proclaim your Death, O Lord,
and profess your Resurrection
until you come again.

When we eat this bread and drink this cup,
we proclaim your death, O Lord,
until you come in glory.

In the Creed which we profess every Sunday we proclaim:

He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

In both Eucharistic Prayer III and Eucharistic Prayer IV just after the consecration at Mass, the Body and Blood of Jesus is offered to the Father as we await the Second Coming of Jesus,

Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial
of the saving Passion of your Son,
his wondrous Resurrection
and Ascension into heaven,
and as we look forward to his second coming,
we offer you in thanksgiving
this holy and living sacrifice
.
(Eucharistic Prayer III)

 Therefore, O Lord,
as we now celebrate the memorial of our redemption,
we remember Christ’s Death
and his descent to the realm of the dead,
we proclaim his Resurrection
and his Ascension to your right hand,
and, as we await his coming in glory,
we offer you his Body and Blood,
the sacrifice acceptable to you
which brings salvation to the whole world
.
(Eucharistic Prayer IV)

During the early part of Advent (until December 16th) the Church asks us to reflect on the Second Coming of Jesus, and not just to reflect on it but to prepare for it. That is why on the first Sunday of Advent each year we read excerpts from a chapter in each of the Gospels where Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD but which we may also see referring to his Second Coming,

For as it was 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, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be (also) at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. 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. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
(Matt 24:37-44 NAB First Sunday of Advent Year A)

Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’
(Mark 13:33-37 NAB First Sunday of Advent Year B)

There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
(Luke 21:25-28 NAB First Sunday of Advent Year C)

The readings of the first Sunday of Advent each year invite us to watch for the Second Coming of Jesus and the readings of the Second Sunday of Advent invite us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus. That is why each year on the Second Sunday of Advent the Gospel is John the Baptist asking us to prepare a way for the Lord. And on the third Sunday of Advent each year we can detect some of the readings encouraging us to be patient for Jesus’ Second Coming.

In the early years after Pentecost the Church believed the Second Coming of Jesus would be only a matter of years away. Many are of the opinion that St. Paul, early in his ministry, believed the Second Coming of Jesus would be so soon that he himself would not die before it occurred. Many believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote to the Thessalonians,

We who are still alive for the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have fallen asleep. At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise, and only after that shall we who remain alive be taken up in the clouds, together with them to meet the Lord in the air.(1 Thess 4:15-17)

But as time went by the early Church gradually began to realize that the Second Coming of Jesus would not be as early as originally expected. Therefore it became important for the Church to have written records of Jesus so the Gospels were composed.

Why did the early Church long for the Second Coming of Jesus and why are we invited now to reflect on it and long for it during Advent? Jesus’ birth at Bethlehem, his death, and resurrection are not yet the final victory over evil. The final conquest of evil will take place when Jesus comes again as Judge. Jesus’ Second Coming will complete what Jesus began with his birth in Bethlehem, his death and resurrection. It will bring the fullness of salvation to the world. Therefore in the early Church they longed for Jesus’ Second Coming and we are invited now to reflect on it and long for it during Advent.

God is present with us throughout all of history but the Second Coming of Jesus and the General Judgment will show all of history leading to God’s final purpose and goal. At the General Judgment we will see how God’s plan for all of history worked itself out. There are two ways of looking at history. You can look at history as a secular historian or you can look at history with the eyes of God. For example, how do you look on the Second World War? The result of mad man named Hitler? That could be one secular view of the war. There is another way to look at it. When Our Lady appeared to the children at Fatima on July 13th 1917 during the First World War she said,

“…if men do not cease offending God, another and more terrible war will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XII. When you see a night lit up by an unknown light, know that it is the sign God gives you that he is about to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger and persecution of the Church and the Holy Father.”

That unknown light occurred on January 25th 1938 and meteorologists called it the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. This is just one example of two ways of looking at an event in history. At the Second Coming of Jesus and the General Judgment we will see all of history leading towards God’s goal and purpose. The final conquest of evil will take place when Jesus comes again the second time as Judge which is why we look forward to it.

So the Church invites us to long for and prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus. How do we prepare for it? Let us place God first in our lives and love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us cleanse our hearts from sin. The second reading during the first three Sundays of Advent each year has much encouragement to prepare our hearts and lives as we await the Second Coming:

And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness (and) put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
(Rom 13:11-14 NAB First Sunday of Advent Year A)

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.
(Rom 15:5-7 NAB Second Sunday of Advent Year A)

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
(James 5:7-9 NAB Third Sunday of Advent Year A)

I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus (Christ). God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Cor 1:4-9 NAB First Sunday of Advent Year B)

The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard "delay," but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out. Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought (you) to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.
(2 Peter 3:9-14 NAB Second Sunday of Advent Year B)

Rejoice always.
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.
May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Thes 5:16-24 NAB Third Sunday of Advent Year B)

Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.
(1 Thes 3:11-13 NAB First Sunday of Advent Year C)

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
(Phil 1:9-11 NAB Second Sunday of Advent Year C)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
(Phil 4:4-7 NAB Third Sunday of Advent Year C)

Advent is not only about preparing for the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. We live between the first coming of Jesus when he was born at Bethlehem and his Second Coming at the end of time when he will come as Judge of all. Advent is also a time for us to reflect on the Second Coming of Jesus. The final conquest of evil will take place when Jesus comes again as Judge. Jesus’ Second Coming will complete what Jesus began with his birth in Bethlehem, his death and resurrection. It will bring the fullness of salvation to the world.

Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’
(Mark 13:33-37 NAB First Sunday of Advent Year B)

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

May our love for each other may increase more and more as we await the coming of Jesus.

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