From my understanding of the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent (Mt 24:37-44), Jesus says to us that we are always preparing for his coming. Whether we are waiting for Jesus to come at the end of time or waiting for him to come to us at the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, we should be ready and watching.
We also wait and prepare to celebrate Jesus' birth in this world on the first Christmas day.
The first week of Advent is a new year for us Christians. The celebration of Christian new year is like the celebration of Hmong new year. In the Hmong new year we try to get rid of bad and evil things, so we as Christians ask God to forgive our sin through the sacrament of reconciliation.
We do need to look to see what is right and what is wrong in our lives. We may ask ourselves these questions about what is most important in our lives:
Do I try to do good deeds for others?
Do I try to be kind and loving in my family and to my friends?
Do I try to go to church every Sunday to hear the word of God?
Do I see the importance of the worship of God?
Advent is a time when God allows us to re-evaluate ourselves. We pray that he will open our hearts and our minds more to his word, so we will come to him without any stain. As St. Paul said: We pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love and patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. To keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our God doesn't want us to rest, because he wants us to take it step by step toward the life of purity, love, and patience.
Jesus has promised that he will come again, but we don't know when he will come. We should ask ourselves would we be ready when Jesus comes? We believe that when Jesus comes again, everything that separates us from God will be taken away.
Advent makes us more hungry for our real life that God will provide for us in his Kingdom and life without end. We are prepare for the day when we will be closer to God and each one of us will meet Jesus the day we leave this earth. As St. Paul says, Jesus will then change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself.
We should be awake and prepared throughout our lives, we can not say we are going to wait a few years before we will attend church on a regular basis, or we can postpone helping others. We can not say these things because we don't know when Jesus will come. So if we want to change or to make things better, we should do it now.
We prepare ourselves to wait for Jesus to come, we welcome him into our lives and our hearts. When we receive Holy Communion, he comes to be with us to strengthen us in our faith.
(Chang is the Green Bay Diocese's consultant for Hmong/Lao pastoral care in the Pastoral Services Department.)
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