The Dawn of Salvation
1st Sunday of Advent (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

The Prophet Isaiah had a vision of a future time of peace when swords will be turned into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:1-5). I read a modern version of this in the newspapers. In one country, an award for community development in the form of a plaque was made from melted AK-47 gun barrels.

We look forward to better times. We have dreams of a brighter future. Some dreams are very personal such as having enough to eat daily or being able to sleep safely at night. Other dreams have wider concerns expressed in words like world peace, equality and justice for all, freedom and human rights. Such dreams may be referred to as creative utopias. As utopias, they are ideal conditions that we desire. As creative, they necessitate our involvement for their realization.

Action starter: Let the sunshine in. Cast aside deeds of darkness.

In biblical terms, such future reality is referred to as the messianic times. They are days of fulfillment as well as days of judgment. They are days of fulfillment because the future conditions we aspire for such as peace and justice become realities. They are days of judgment because God will demand an accounting from each person to see if he or she is prepared to live according to these new conditions of the Kingdom of God. This reign of God is like the dawn that ushers the daylight. It comes because of God’s initiative but it also calls for our personal conversion and readiness.

We are celebrating the first Sunday of Advent. This is the start of the liturgical season. This season speaks of newness and freshness. Just as in the first reading, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of new times where instruments of war become instruments of life, so also Paul writes to the Christians of Rome about the coming of the dawn of salvation (Rom. 13:11-14). They must henceforth cast aside deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. There are practical and personal consequences in welcoming the messianic times.

The Gospel therefore exhorts us to be ready for the Lord’s coming (Mt. 24:37-44). Three images are given by the author Matthew to underline this need for vigilance. First, the story of Noah was brought up where the people went about their life routinely, heedless of the impending disaster. Matthew noticed that the Christians of his time (about 80 A.D.) seemed to have forgotten about the Lord’s coming. They have lost their sense of Messianic expectation. The second example of Matthew was about two men and two women going about their daily preoccupation. When the Lord comes, one will be taken, and the other will be left behind. Perhaps, at fist reading it seems the one left behind is fortunate, but upon deeper reflection, the one taken is more fortunate. He is taken up into the Lord’s realm. We have to be ready to go with the Lord. Finally, Matthew reminds us that the final coming will be as unexpected as a thief in the night. Therefore we must be constantly watchful.

As we begin the new season of Advent, let us enter into the spirituality of the season. The Church’s calendar of the liturgical seasons is meant to help us grow in the spiritual life. It is meant to help us mature in discipleship by following the life of the Lord. Advent tells us that a disciple of the Lord must be vigilant. The Lord has come and became flesh-among-us. We celebrate this every Christmas. He will come again at a time we least expect in order to establish a “new heaven and new earth”. He is daily knocking on the door of our hearts, waiting for our invitation to come in.

Let Jesus in. Let our prayer be “Maranatha” - Come Lord Jesus.