Clarion Herald – 11/30/13 – English; 12/7/13 – Spanish
Advent is a time of waiting.
Advent asks us to join the Israelites of the past as they waited in hope – for thousands of years – for the promised Messiah.
Today, Advent also is a time of waiting for and opening our hearts to the birth of the Lord Jesus.
There is a third aspect of “Advent waiting” that sometimes gets overlooked. While we join the Israelites in prayerful waiting and we anticipate the birth of Jesus, we also are waiting for the second coming of Christ.
And here is the question: Are we ready for the second coming of Christ?
If the coming of the Lord happened tomorrow, would the world be ready? Would our hearts be ready, and would our families, churches and broader community be ready?
Over the last 60 years, we have heard dire predictions that the world would end on a certain date. Those predictions have been made, as I recall, at least four or five times in my lifetime. We are still here.
But just suppose if the world were to end tomorrow – would the world be ready for Jesus’ second coming? And, what would Jesus think if he came back to our world today?
We know that on the day of judgment we will be called to offer an honest account of our lives, realizing that Jesus will ask us how much we have loved him and loved others whom he has placed in our lives. He will listen attentively and mercifully and ask us to give an honest assessment of how we have lived.
Is our world ready for that day? There are wars and rumors of wars across the globe, which is not God’s will. Jesus would ask what we are doing as a global community to provide peace, reconciliation and unity. We continue to pray for peace in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. Are these places ready for the coming of the Lord?
At the recent U.S. bishops’ meeting, Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke about the violent persecution of Christians across the globe. He said the 21st century could accurately be termed “a new age of martyrs.” More than 1 million people have been killed for the faith since 2000.
Then, at home, we have to ask the same question. Every day we see on television and read in the newspaper the reports of more blood shed in our streets. Within the last several months, more children and babies have been killed as so-called “collateral damage” in the senseless shootings that paralyze our community. Last Thursday night, a man was shot dead near the front of the archdiocesan office building on Howard Avenue. Sometimes there are four or five separate shootings in one night!
It’s safe to say that if the Lord were to come tomorrow, he would certainly ask us individually and as a city and archdiocese what we have done to foster peace and unity in the midst of this new Battle of New Orleans against crime, violence, murder and racism.
The prophets of old read the signs of the times, and they were able to identify ways in which the people were not ready for the coming of the Lord. Their prophetic voices helped open hearts.
We are the prophets of today, and we are called to read the signs of our times. When there are circumstances and situations that clearly are not ready for the coming of the Lord, we must ask this question of ourselves: What can I, personally, do to bring about peace and reconciliation?
One of my favorite songs is “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” and we make sure to sing, “and let it begin with me.” What can I do not only to prepare my own heart for the coming of the Lord but also to help bring that peace on Earth? There are relationships within families and communities that need to be made right. Our hearts need to be more attentive to God and to others.
Advent also calls us to look at our daily lives and see the subtle and quiet ways in which the Lord comes to us. Sometimes we do not recognize this gift of divine presence. May we use the next few weeks to prepare our hearts to meet the Lord in the stranger, in the poor and in the suffering. And, then, on Christmas, we will be ready to celebrate the birthday of Jesus!
Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.