A SECOND CHRISTMAS, A SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION for the FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT By Fr. Serge Santos, OFM

Our pilgrim church is a strategist. Why so? Let’s take a look. Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King, which declares that our Lord Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. This really means Christ rules the world and the universe and the Controller of our lives and Mother Earth. Today we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the Advent season and the new liturgical year. Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means Coming. What is this Coming? This is the Second Coming of Christ, which would happen on the day of Final Judgment, when  Christ would turn over humanity to God the Father and Creator. We prepare for this coming so that when this spectacular day arrives, we are ready like the five Wise Virgins fully prepared heart, mind, body and spirit to meet the Bridegroom Jesus Christ. If we are ready and prepared for this Second Coming, which is considered the Second Christmas, we will be prepared for the First Coming, which is the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. This what makes the church that designed the liturgical calendar strategist.

I quote from the ORDO 2015: “ADVENT has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is  remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of  devout and expectant delight.” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar, 39). The church divides Advent in two parts. The first part, which begins today until December 16th, urges us to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. The second part from December 17th until Christmas Eve highlights the preparation for the celebration of his birth. (cf. Calendarium Romanum, p. 61)

As we begin Advent today, the church reminds us that Christmas is coming. But it seems that the church is late in announcing this event. Shopping malls and stores and houses have been decorated beautifully since October. Many children have made a list of presents they want to receive. Many adults have bought gifts. Christmas carols are in the air. It’s about time the church tells us to get ready and be prepared.

And yet, in the scriptural readings today we cannot find any idea about the birth of Jesus Christ. Why? Because there are two Christmases we can prepare. The first is the one we are very familiar with, the First Christmas (Nativity). We know Jesus Christ was born like us but without sin. By following his words and example we give meaning to our human existence. Christ has gone to the Father but he will return. This is the Second Coming, the Final Judgment Day (Parousia), which is the coming of Christ at the end of time.

Maybe many of us don’t give enough thought to this Second Christmas so the church calls attention to this event. We want  for sure to go to Heaven. Therefore it is fitting and right to be found worthy for this momentous event. This Last Day is still a secret to us.

“Watch” is the warning of Jesus Christ. We will be prepared if we remain faithful to Christ and to our Christian faith. This holy season of Advent is a great opportunity to look into one’s life and check how one stands with God. Christmas should remind us of the Second Christmas. Question oneself: How would I fare if I were called today from this world? Have I followed the teachings of Christ? Could I get a passing grade? If we find ourselves lacking in preparedness, this is the season to put things in order.

We have the capacity to make the Second Christ either joyful or terrifying. Our loving God does not will evil for us. Jesus Christ wants us to be SAVED! God is giving a wonderful Christmas gift, which is ETERNAL LIFE. The spirit that we can adopt is the spirit of the Second Christmas which is highlighted in our prayer following the recitation of the “Our Father”: “Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

About Fr. Serge and his other reflections.

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