Didn’t we just hear this message? …the references to the Son of Man coming? See if this weekend’s Gospel from Luke sounds familiar to you:
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
This Gospel should sound familiar because it contains one of the parallel verses that appear in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Just two weeks ago we heard the Markan version that came at the end of the Church’s year. Here is one of the nearly identical lines from Mark, “And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds' with great power and glory.” This week, Luke’s gospel says the same thing as the new Church year begins with Advent. If you want to emphasize the importance of something you repeat it. Here in just two weeks time we are reminded that ‘the Son of Man is coming…’ And if that isn't enough? In case there is any doubt about who this Son of Man is, last week's reading made it very clear. Our liturgical year ended with the celebration of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
As we begin Advent we mark the passing of another Church year. And with these readings it is as if end meets the beginning in Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That alone should be enough to keep us awake and vigilant. However this must be a conscious, intentional act because life can get in the way during the holiday season.
Yes it all sounds familiar. But we shouldn’t allow that to lull us into a sense of complacency. We also don't want the hectic pace of life to cause anxiety. Let this first Sunday of Advent awaken in us not just a familiarity, but an excitement and newness, especially when it is the King of Kings whose coming we look forward to celebrating!