Jakarta, 12 November 2017
A Christian Pilgrim
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
“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
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, He said, “All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Then they asked Him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen? He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” The He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” (Luke 21:5-11 NAB)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we trust in Your plan that Jesus will come again in glory. Help us to remain faithful no matter what happens to us and around us. Pour out Your grace upon the world so that all people will be ready to welcome Jesus when He returns. Come, Lord Jesus.
Jakarta, 24 November 2015
A Christian Pilgrim
OUR FINAL END
Today’s Gospel Reading: Luke 17:26-37 – Friday, 13 November 2015
This is a difficult Gospel reading. The Lord refers to popular indifference about our final end similar to that of people at the time of Noah and Lot. The parables of Jesus indicate that there would be an undetermined lapse of time before His return.
When that decisive moment comes, however, each person will be on her or his own. Where the carcasses are, there will be the vultures. Where human beings exist, even in remote sections of the planet, there will judgment occur. There is no escaping personal accountability.
In all of these apocalyptic statements of the Lord, three levels are operative. There is reference to the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the cosmic world and our individual end at death. The difficulty in our understanding Jesus’ assertions about the end is that the evangelists crammed all three levels together. They are difficult for us to unravel.
Unlike the Greek gods, our God is involved in our lives. There will come a time when He will bring us to a moment of fulfillment in an historical event that signals the end of an era, or in the final end of history, or in our own death in its normal course.
The point is, that at the “end”, we should be prepared to answer whether we have done our best in using the gifts and opportunities the Lord has given us.
Jakarta, 13 November 2015
A Christian Pilgrim
WATCH AND PRAY
(A biblical reflection on THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT [Year B], 30 November 2014)
Gospel Reading: Mark 13:33-37
First Reading: Isaiah 63:16-17,19;64:1,3-8; Psalms: Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.” (Mark 13:33-37 RSV)
Once upon a time, God, the infinite, eternal and all powerful One, came down to meet us on the dusty roads of human life. In the flesh of Jesus Christ, God walked with us through our light and darkness, our joys and sorrows, our solitude and relationships. Scripture writers called it the “fullness of time”. Things would never be the same again.
In Jesus Christ, God spoke to us in the human language that we can understand. His life warmly portrays God’s love and concern for us. And yet the story is not complete. The journey stretches on until we fully share in Christ’s glorification. That will be at the completion of life’s journey. For the moment we are a people on the way.
Advent is a time of waiting and watching. It is a very special time for Christians. It opens the Church’s year by picking up the theme of our journey towards Christ who is coming back to meet us. We are not like wandering nomads who have no sure purpose or definite direction. We have the pilgrim’s destiny with God. We travel forward on a road of unknown length until Christ will come again.
The focus of the first Sunday of Advent is on the Second Coming of Christ. The parable of the doorkeeper speaks of the master who will come back to the servants. The message for the servants is twofold: “Be on your guard and stay awake” …… watch and pray.
One task of the doorkeeper’s employment is to keep out unwanted visitors and intruders. Here the parable is a moral warning not to open up our doors to the ways of sin. Each passing day we are to watch with the vigilant eye of the sentry to prevent any intrusions of the enemy.
The unexamined life is a city with no sentries on its walls. Anybody who is serious about living a spiritual life is advised to undertake a daily reflection on our situation. This means more than counting up the number of our faults. It involves an honesty about what motivates us in the things we do.
We are sometimes surprised when we recognize that some exemplary deeds are done out of very subtle, selfish motivation. We may be doing the right things only to be praised or at least recognized as virtuous, to impress others, or as part of a self-seeking bargain with God. In daily reflection we guard against the intrusions of selfishness in our motivation.
The second task to the doorkeeper is to open up promptly to all who have the right to enter. Applied to the spiritual life, this means a spirit of prayerfulness or sensitivity to God. The sensitive soul is awake with all the longing of the lover for the approaching footsteps of the beloved. But what is He line, this God-who-comes? In today’s first reading Isaiah uses three very appealing names for God … our Father, our Redeemer and the potter.
God is the Father who has created us with the potential to share in the divine life. God is the Redeemer who continues to pay the price of liberating us from slavery to incomplete forms of life. He offers us life to the full. And God is the potter who is ever crafting our lives anew. The present clay may be messy and, in our view, without meaningful form or beauty. But the divine craftsman can mould and fashion an amazing masterpiece in the twinkling of an eye.
The God who is coming back the road to meet us wants to lift us up as His children, wants to liberate us and fashion us anew.
Do not think of the Second Coming as so distant and unknown as to be irrelevant to the hurly-burly of today’s living. If we are spiritually vigilant and alert then the future will draw us forward towards God. Our hope will energize us by supporting us when we are weak and encouraging us to persevere.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we believe that our lives are on a journey towards our heavenly Father who is reaching back to us this day and every day. So, we will be on our guard lest the ways of sin enslave our thoughts. We will also watch in prayer, be vigilant and alert to the daily visitations of the Holy Spirit to our souls. Praised be the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jakarta, 27 November 2014
A Christian Pilgrim