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THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN

THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN

(A biblical reflection on the FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year C] – 28 November 2021)

Gospel Reading: Luke 21:25-28,34-36

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalms: Psalm 25:4-5,8-10,14; Second Reading: 1Thessalonians 3:12 – 4:2

The Scripture Text

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on 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. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

“But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.”(Luke 21:25-28,34-36 RSV)

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ. The very word “Advent” means coming. But there are two comings of Jesus Christ: His first coming, when He was born of Mary in Bethlehem, and His second, when He will come again in glory at the end of time. And so the Church divides Advent into two parts.

The first part which begins today and goes until December 16, emphasizes preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ. The second part, from December 17 through Christmas eve, emphasizes preparation for the celebration of His birth.

Advent should be a joyful time, since expectation of a happy event is always a happy thing. Though the “Gloria” is not said in the Holy Mass, it is omitted not because we are sad or sorrowful, but only so that on Christmas our singing of this great song of the angels may in a certain sense be a new experience for us. Today we begin the joyful expectation of the final coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time.

There is, however, something of a problem here. The picture that many of us have of the final coming is, at best, short of joy. We have the idea that it will be a terrifying experience: a great, awesome cataclysm with the world engulfed in fire and the fearsome judge of all men calling us to account for the least wrong we have done. How can we be expected to want the end of the world, and to look forward to it? And yet the early Christians had an intense yearning for it. That is strange to our present outlook. If the early Christians looked forward to the end of the world, and we dread it, it seems obvious that our notion is different from theirs.

It is not surprising that we are troubled by the thought of the end of the world. In the Gospel we have just heard, St. Luke paints an awesome picture. Frankly, we are not quite sure what this picture means. The images in the Gospel are taken largely from the Old Testament, and they refer to a judgment by God. But God’s judgment destroys one thing only: sin, not goodness. And the world, the universe is good. That is the view the early Christians had. That there will be a change, even an upheaval, at the end of time seems clear, but not in the sense of the annihilation of the universe, but in the sense of the final fulfilment of all things in Jesus Christ. All sin, all evil will be removed from the universe by the coming of Jesus Christ.

Notice what Jesus says in the Gospel: “Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21:28). “Redemption” here refers not only to people, but to all of creation. Jesus saves us not by taking us out of the world and out of our own history, as if the world and all that men have done are evil. Rather His redemption purifies and perfects all created things. Complete redemption means that in Jesus Christ this universe will reach the purpose for which God created it, and in Jesus Christ all of human history will find its meaning and fulfilment. We do not know just how all this will happen any more than we know when it will happen.

There is much fear in our times that the whole world may just blow up through nuclear explosions. There is no guarantee that this will not occur. But we must not be afraid that God is going to lose control of His creation or that men through their foolish genius will upset God’s plans for the universe. Whatever may happen from the human angle, God will send His Son in glory again when He has decided that the time has come for the end of our present world. But that time will be a new beginning for all of creation, a time of perfection without sin.

And, what of ourselves? Naturally, we live in hope that we will be part of that perfection without sin. And we will be, if we live according to the words of today’s Gospel: “Take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life …… But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength …” (Luke 21:34,36). We will have confidence and joy if we try to live in accord with the prayer of St. Paul in today’s epistle: “May the Lord make you increase and bound in love to one another and to all men, …… so that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus ……” (1Thessalonians 3:12).

Today we begin a new Church year. During this year, we will celebrate all the saving events of the life of Jesus Christ. But today as we begin, we look to the end. We look to the completion of all the good that Jesus began by His life on this earth, a completion that will come only at the end of time.

Like the early Christians, we should have an intense yearning for the final coming of Jesus Christ. As we will pray in the Preface, we should “watch for the day, hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours when Christ our Lord will come again in His glory” (Preface of Advent I, the Sunday Missal [A New Edition], page 62).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, send Your Holy Spirit to renew Your Church. May we grow in faithfulness and godliness as we enter into this time of expectation. Revive us all with Your great power. Amen.

Jakarta, 27 November 2021

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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LUKE 21:34-36 (Today’s Gospel Reading)

Jakarta, 27 November 2021

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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MARK 13:31 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Mark 13:24-32)

Jakarta, 14 November 2021 [33rd ORDINARY SUNDAY – YEAR B]

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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LUKE 21:36 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 21:34-36)

Jakarta, 28 November 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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LUKE 21:6 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 21:5-11)

Jakarta, 24 November 2020

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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GOD WILL GATHER HIS ELECTS FROM THE FOUR WINDS: 33rd Week in the Ordinary Time – Year B – Mark 13:24-32

Jakarta, 18 November 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2018 in MISCELLANY

 

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BY YOUR PERSEVERANCE YOU WILL SECURE YOUR LIVES: 33rd ORDINARY SUNDAY [YEAR C] – LUKE 21:5-19

hari-minggu-biasa-xxxiii-tahun-c

Jakarta, 13 November 2016

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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BY YOUR ENDURANCE YOU WILL GAIN YOUR LIVES

BY YOUR ENDURANCE YOU WILL GAIN YOUR LIVES

(Biblical reflection on the 33rd Ordinary Sunday [Year C] – November 13, 2016) 

Gospel Reading: Luke 21:5-19 

First Reading: Malachi 3:19-20; Psalms: Psalm 98:5-9; Second Reading: 2Thessalonians 3:7-12  

yesus-mengajar-di-bait-allah-mrk-12-aScripture Text:

And as some spoke of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, He said, “As for these things which you see, the days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” And they asked Him, “Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign when this is about to take place?” And He said, “Take heed that you are not led astray; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and, ‘The time is at hand1’ Do not go after them. And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for this must first take place, but the end will not be at once.” 

Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for My name’s sake. This will be a time for you to bear testimony. Settle it therefore in your minds, not to meditate beforehand how to answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and kinsmen and friends, and some of you they will put death; you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:5-19 RSV) 

In Jesus’ day the temple of Jerusalem was an imposing and beautiful structure. Herod had just rebuilt it, from the years 19 to 9 B.C. It was twice the size of the former temple and more ornate. At this time it was still being furnished and decorated. No wonder, then, that as Jesus was in the temple preaching there were many people on hand, admiring the structure and talking about its beauty and imposing size. As a people they were extremely proud of it.

So they must have been shocked when Jesus predicted the destruction of this new temple, a destruction so great that “there shall not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Luke 21:6). Immediately they wanted details. When? What signs would point to the end? We can compare ourselves to these people of Jesus’ time. Just as they were proud of their temple and its glory, so we are very proud of our achievements, our buildings, our technology.

The people ask Him when this destruction will happen and what sign will herald the event, but Jesus does not answer this until vv. 20-24. Instead, Jesus turns to warning His hearers against messianic pretenders who will come announcing that the time is at hand; but both they and their proclamations are false. Jesus counsels His hearers not to be terrified by war and tumult; they do not signal the end of time, but they are a mocking witness to the fact that the old age has to pass, and with much suffering and pain. Jesus goes on to widen the horizon of affliction to include universal strife in world war and natural disaster; famines and pestilences will take place, as well as unnamed terrors and enigmatic omens. In a comprehensive catalogue of disaster which borrows heavily from traditional prophetic apocalyptic literature, Jesus does not camouflage what appears to be nothing less than cosmic catastrophe against which human efforts at control must surely be hopelessly ineffective.

Before such universal calamities take place, the disciples will have to face particular difficulties in their own stories. The time discipleship will always be a time of trial, and Jesus uncovers a whole list of painful experiences which no disciple in the early Church will be able to ignore. They will be manhandled and persecuted; they will be accused of crimes against the state in the Gentile courts – all because they preach the Gospel. Jesus emphasizes that the time of persecution will be a time for testimony, and He assures the disciples that they need not prepare their speeches and gestures with the calculated care of the actor, for a greater power will take care of their words which will be so compelling that their accusers will be unable to gainsay them.

Since hate respects no ties, opposition to the disciples will know no bounds: even blood ties will not save them from betrayal by their own family and possible death. After all this talk of persecution, to assure the disciples that not a hair of their head will be harmed seems a somewhat misplaced sentiment; but it may be that Jesus is simply recalling His own paradox: that the disciples’ spiritual safety will never be in doubt because their enduring fidelity will gain them their lives – lives which will appear lost to the eyes of the world (Luke 21:19).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach me the passing nature of this world and its glory. Give me a hunger for the glory that is to come. You have assured me that I need not worry, because my life is completely in Your hands. Amen. 

Jakarta, 11 November 2016 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN IN GLORY

THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN IN GLORY

(A biblical reflection on the FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year C] – 29 November 2015) 

Gospel Reading: Luke 21:25-28,34-36 

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalms: Psalm 25:4-5,8-10,14; Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:12 – 4:2 

SECOND COMING 00091The Scripture Text

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on 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. Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 

“But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:25-28,34-36 RSV)

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12 RSV).

St. Luke portrayed vividly the coming of the Son of Man in glory. Even though he alluded to the terror that will be in people’s hearts at that time, Luke focused more on the majestic coming of the Son of Man (Luk 21:25-26,27). In what context are we to understand Luke’s reflections on the second coming as we begin Advent?

Even though Advent prepares us to celebrate the first coming of Christ, our attention is directed to the second coming. This is appropriate because we need to be aware of the destiny that awaits us with the second coming of Christ if we are to celebrate properly His first coming.

Whether we accept it or not, Christ’s coming in glory confronts our lives. By considering it in the coming days, we can avoid making Advent and Christmas mere exercises of sentimentality. Hopefully, we can allow the word of God in scripture to challenge and reform our lives. During this season of Advent we will encounter many men and women whose words and lives should cause us to reflect upon ourselves and our manner of living.

On this First Sunday of Advent, for example, we are helped by the words we hear to put the passage from Luke in proper perspective. Jeremiah said that in the time of Messiah Judah would be safe and Jerusalem secure and known as “the Lord our justice” because God would be present there (Jeremiah 33:16). We will be ready to meet the Lord when He comes as we embrace the prayer of the psalmist that the Lord, who is our justice, guide us in His truth and teach us that we might be just (Psalm 25:4-5,8-9). Moreover, we can pray with St. Paul that the Lord would strengthen us, make our hearts overflow with love for one another, and make us blameless and holy before God (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13).

In these ways, our hearts will be changed and we will be able to live in love and justice with each other as God so eagerly desires. Then we will be ready to meet Jesus in His second coming. We will also be able to celebrate His first coming in a way that is open to the transformed life that He came to give us.

Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me prepare for the coming of Your Son. I want to accept the grace that He won for me. During this season of expectation, fill my heart with Your love and my mind with Your truth. Amen.

Jakarta, 27 November 2015 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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IT SHOULD NOT FRIGHTEN US [LUKE 21:34-36]

IT SHOULD NOT FRIGHTEN US [LUKE 21:34-36] 

KRISTUS RAJA - Jesus_on_throne_“But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36 RSV). 

The prospect of standing before Christ at the final judgment should not frighten us. Jesus was alerting us so that we might examine our lives regularly and always be prepared to meet Him face-to-face. This exercise of self-examination can help to strengthen our spiritual lives. Jesus longs to shower us with blessings but He awaits our invitation to come into our hearts (Revelation 3:20), a decision of our free wills. No matter how many times we may have asked Him in previously, Jesus never tires of our invitations. 

Christians know how easy it is to be lulled into complacency by the demands of our daily routines. Everyday tasks and responsibilities seem to take precedence over our love for Jesus. By forgetting to stay alert, we become spiritually vulnerable. Our good intentions to ready ourselves through prayers, liturgy, and Bible study are choked off by our busyness. 

Scripture speaks poignantly to us “… as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:14). When our fruit is examined, hopefully it will be found mature. Scripture is unequivocal that we will one day meet Christ. The crucial question is: “Will we be ready to stand before the Son of Man?” 

Today marks the close of the Church Year. It is, therefore, an opportune time to make a small retreat, either by going to our churches or by secluding ourselves in the privacy of our homes. Review the past year. Have we grown closer to the Lord, stayed about the same, or drifted away from Him? The purpose is not to become elated or discouraged or guilty about the state of our lives but to evaluate the past in order to better plan the future. Try to assess your position before God. Tomorrow begins a new liturgical year, a time for a fresh start. 

Jakarta, 30th of November 2013 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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