Meditation of the week

All time is God’s time

Mt. 24,37-44.

Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Church’s new year, Year (A), we begin  reading from Matthew’s gospel. Matthew has his own unique way of presenting the life and mission of Jesus. In his gospel, written primarily for a Jewish audience, Jesus is presented as the fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, the Son of God, and royal Son of David. He is also presented as a teacher like Moses, giving the new law to the new Israel, the Church.

The first Sunday of Advent always deals with the theme of the second Coming of Jesus the Son of Man at the end of time.  As we begin our Advent preparation for Christmas, the church invites us to adopt a bi- focal perspective and see preparation for the coming of Christ at Christmas as part of our long-term preparation for his second coming at the end of time.

The Son of Man will come just as suddenly as the Flood came on an unsuspecting people busy with the affairs of life; eating, drinking and marrying. His coming will separate the prepared from the unprepared as decisively as one man in a field is taken away and the other left, or as for two women  grinding at a mill one is taken and the other left.

As in daily life, if one knew at what hour of the night a burglar would come one would stay awake to protect one’s property against such an unwelcome intruder, so should we be similarly concerned to be prepared to meet the Son of Man when he comes, unexpectedly, at the end of time.

The three images in today’s gospel emphasize the impermanence of life and how tenuous the hold we have on it. It could end as unexpectedly as the Flood came, or as inexplicably as the man or woman disappeared from their work, or as furtively as the thief came in the night.

For Jesus, all time is God’s time. Circular in motion, it chronicles the story of our coming from God at Creation to our returning to Him at the end of our lives, having achieved our salvation through His help.

In Jesus’ time, the tendency was to ignore the circular dimension of time and see it as linear motion away from God at creation with no thought that it would end.  Do we not tend to do the same?

Advent, with pre- Christmas work’s parties can easily replicate the first picture in today’s gospel of “eating and drinking” with no thought of preparation for Christmas.  As Christians, we see Advent as a time to prepare for the celebration of the first coming of Christ at Christmas, and as a dress rehearsal for his Second Coming at the end of time, which should be a joyous event for us.

Advent is a time to be awake, to be discerning about the things that mater in our preparation for Christmas.  We ponder the mysterious depths of the Christmas mystery, wonder at the love that it expresses, and embrace the hope it offers.

Advent is a time of waiting, a time for prayer, reflection, grace, and repentance of our sins; an opportunity for reform and renewal of our lives to make more space for the Lord and his priorities in our plans.  A time to let the Lord teach us his ways.

Fr Geoff O’Grady