Grace to you!
I welcome you to the first Sunday of Advent. As you may know, adventis the Latin word for “to come” or simply, in another sense, “the coming.” It refers to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. As you may also have known, it is the Church’s new year. So, Happy New Year!
Our reflections throughout this Season of Advent will be focused on the right disposition towards the End Time prophesies.
End Time prophesies scare many. However, it should be for the believer a time of joyful expectation. As believers, we are certain that the end is a new beginning in Christ. We are certain of what comes ahead of us; what Saint Paul calls heavenward crown (Phil 3:14). Or what 1 Peter 5 describes as the crown of glory that never fades (1 Pet 5:4). Such certainty fills our heart with joy.
During Advent, bible readings selected for worship reflect the mood of expectation. They point us to the coming of the Son of Man, Our Lord, as well as the signs recorded in different parts of the bible that will precede his coming.
Because Christians believe the second coming of Christ will mark the end of the world, the signs preceding the coming and the prophecies connected with it are called “End Time Prophecies.”
From the Gospel of Luke, we read this prophesy from the Lord: “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time, they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Lk 21:25-28).
Before I weigh in on the first group of signs—astronomical events and their results, which I will discuss in tomorrow’s reflection—, I would love to say that the messages of end time are not found only in Christianity. Since the world belongs to God, He shows signs of what may happen in different ways among different peoples, believers and unbelievers, though in varied degrees.
Years before Christ, ancient Persia, Mede, Egypt, Mesopotamia, etc., in their various traditions, have prophecies about the End Time. Among astronomers of our time who have no relationship with Christianity, there have been predictions too—from Nostradamusto many others. Science “fiction” stories are speculations of different expressions of the astronomical catastrophes that may destroy the earth. Recently, the concerns about an asteroid destroying a portion of the world in the future are simply physical, scientific clues.
The point is: everything that has a beginning in nature has an end. That is the way the Maker has structured things. The provident God also shows in different cultures, and among different peoples, signs of what may occur. Those are to remind us of the need to be centered in the very purpose and meaning of life and open our hearts to deeper realities.
Here is what we may take home today. The Lord assured us that he will come again. Surely, he will. The End Time will come. Certainly. It’s a biblical truth. There are other scientific indicators to its reality. Second, it will happen at God’s time, not necessarily by human means. People could see the signs. They could piece things together to figure out what is happening so as to prepare. However, no one knows exactly when the End Time will occur (Mt 24:36).
So, what do you think is the nature of these astronomical signs? Tomorrow’s reflection will shed some light. In the meantime, let not the thoughts of End Time scare you. Instead, be filled with joyful expectation. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
[First Sunday of Advent C: Jer 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Lk 21:25-28, 34-36]