Reflection for the Vigil of the First Sunday of Advent 2015

November 28, 2015

By Molly Brockwell, OSB

Readings: Luke 21:25-28, 34-36; Romans 13:8-14

Molly Brockwell OSBEvery few years it seems there is someone convinced that the end of the world is near. There were predictions for the end of civilization as we knew it with the Y2K scares, the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012, and the perpetual assortment of preachers predicting the date of the Rapture. We could even look at our world today—terrorist bombings and refugees and global warming—and wonder if the end times are upon us. 

Through the years, many of my students have asked me about the end times. Do I worry about the end of the world? Do I think it’s really coming? Shouldn’t we store up food and weapons for the ensuing chaos?  What does the Bible say about the end of the world? My usual reply to my students is that I try to live every day well, so that if it’s my last I can be proud of how I’ve lived. 

The predictions of the end times don’t fill me with fear, but call upon my faith. Many people look at the “signs of the times” and heed them as a call to store up provisions and arm themselves to the teeth in preparation for the tribulations to come.  I don’t think this is the vigilance Jesus is calling us to practice. Instead, “when these signs begin to happen, [we should] stand erect and raise [our] heads because [our] redemption is at hand” (Luke 21: 28). So we need to stand up. On what do we stand? If we have rooted ourselves in the commandment to love one another, we stand on solid ground. I can’t help but think of St. Benedict’s admonition to do today what will profit us for eternal life. We are called to live today as if our salvation depended upon it. As St. Paul reminds us, we are to “lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12). And when we stand up straight and lift our heads, as Jesus calls us to do, we can see that our redemption, the world’s redemption, is connected to our love of neighbor. Make no mistake, Christ is our redeemer, and his mercy covers our sins. But as we stand up and raise our heads, we are being called to participate in the redemption of this broken world.

Let us take time this Advent to ready ourselves to bring Jesus to birth anew at Christmas, so that we may join him in loving our broken world into a new wholeness.