AS we observe the first Sunday of Advent, the first season of the Christian year leading to Christmas, we are reminded by the gospel (Matthew 24:37-44) that we are both waiting for the birth of Jesus and his second coming, when he will judge both the living and the dead.
We are thus admonished by the gospel writers to always be on our toes for we do not know when the lord will come just like the house owner does not know when a thief would strike.
Advent is the season of hope for it is when we start to expect Jesus’ birth and Christ’s second coming, as Christians during the 6th century started to believe. It is a happy and joyful season with a deep message if we only care to stop, look and listen.
We are taught by the gospels that the only thing certain in our lives is that Christ and his kingdom will come and that everything else is uncertain, including the day of our death. The certainness of uncertainty is what hangs over us like a Damocles sword. Nevertheless, do not despair for uncertainty could actually be an opportunity to make ourselves closer to God. Without us knowing it, uncertainty can teach us to be faithful and ready for Christ’s eventual return and rule over us. In a way, it could strengthen our covenant with God as it gives us hope in our daily lives and in the future.
Indeed, uncertainty also causes us to be afraid. Thus, it is common for us to call on God when we are facing uncertainties like when we are jobless, sick or just down and uncertain of our future. We are afraid of uncertainty yet ironically it is in these circumstances, if we take a hard look, that we most likely would find God and his blessings. Unfortunately, this is not true for many because they are bewildered and in the dark…they are just simply out of the light.
Uncertainty could teach us to rely on God’s grace as we live our lives. Once we realize that we have no power on our own, except those that were granted us by our creator, we will be free from our uncertainties. God always has the last word in whatever we do. Unless we have God’s grace in us, we cannot even presume to understand God, and know his ways for that is akin to appropriating for ourselves God’s state of being. Sad to say, the sin of idolatry has become the normal for so many nowadays.
Uncertainty could also teach us to live one day at a time if only we could just be patient in whatever we do. We can always plan for tomorrow but we cannot assume its success or boast about it for we are not there, we don’t live in it. We cannot count our eggs until they are hatched. We only live for the moment, this very moment, and that our grand plans as Christians have no meaning unless it is a testament of our faith. God always help those who truly work in his name (Hebrews 6:10).
Because of the uncertain nature of our lives, it is expected of us to do good all the time and show our commitment to God lest he comes at a time when we are unprepared and suffer the consequences.
Planning our lives without faith in God is foolish. It is like building a house in shifting sands or walking on very thin ice. In making our plans, we have to be like the prophets of old who first read the signs of the times to become knowledgeable on what God generally wants for us — to be faithful in our covenant with him — before proceeding on whatever plans we have. That is what reading the signs of the times and being a prophet means.
Aside from reading the signs of the times as we wait for the second coming of Christ, we should not be idle and complacent. We should try to discern and pray for the grace of understanding and knowledge that we may know what is in store for us and so we may act accordingly, even if we only live for the moment.
Wisdom and the virtue of patience, my brothers and sisters, are the true gifts of Advent to us.