Sign of Hope

Sign of Hope

First Sunday of Advent [B]

November 29, 2020

Mark 13:33-37

We are entering a joyful season of Advent. The first Sunday of Advent is also the beginning of the liturgical year of the Catholic Church. Advent is from the Latin word “adventus” meaning “the coming.” From this name alone, we can already deduce the purposes of this lovely season. It is to prepare us for the coming of Jesus, yet we must not forget that the Church teaches us that there are two comings. The first coming is two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, as a baby at Mary’s hands. The second coming is Jesus’ arrival at the end of time as the glorious king and the judge.

Our Gospel points to this fundamental truth of the second coming. Jesus will surely come, but He does not give us the timetable, and thus, we need to be prepared and be watchful. The illustration Jesus presents is a master who is traveling abroad. In ancient times, traveling is stunning different from our time. Nowadays, with the advances of technologies and modern transport systems, we can determine even the exact location of a particular train and even an airplane. We are used to following a fixed schedule of travel itineraries. However, the ancient people knew nothing about the internet or GPS, and traveling was often hard to endure. People who needed to cross the sea may get stranded because of the unpredictable storms. Some people had to spend weeks in a  town because the winter was unbearably chilling for travelers. Paul, the apostle to the gentiles, knew well how punishing traveling was. Robbers ambushed him, his ship was capsized several times, and he had to spend hours on the sea. The master will come, but nobody knows when, and thus, the servants have to be watchful.

Humanity is living in a time of great sadness and fear. We are still battling the covid-19 that kills thousands, renders countless people jobless, and changes the way we live and interact. Aside from this tiny virus, we are constantly scared by possible global catastrophe caused by nuclear wars, global warming, even zombies and alien attacks. Yet, this season of Advent gives us a reason for hope. Despite everything, Jesus will surely come, and He remains in control.

We learn from the advent wreath. This tradition attached to advent season comes from northern Europe, who knew well how dark and cold winter could be, especially in December. Unlike us, who live in tropical, our brethren living near the arctic zone sometimes experience brutal winter. They are living in freezing temperatures and often without sunlight. These gloomy and dark conditions may affect our mental health. However, our brothers and sisters refused to give up and look for the sign of hope. They discovered the evergreen leaves that decline to wither and found out that small light shines brighter in the dark. This advent wreath points to us Christ, our Hope. Every time we enter the season of Advent, we are assured that there is always hope, even in the face of our world’s brokenness.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

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