Every Sunday when we come together to celebrate the holy mass we pray the Creed. And one of the things we always say as part of that prayer is: ‘He (Jesus) will come again to judge the living and the dead.’ That is what we believe. God came and walked among us in the person of Jesus and Jesus will come again to judge all people. No one knows when this will happen, but Jesus has told us that this will happen. Maybe it will be during our life-time, maybe we will already be dead.
Today we officially begin our preparation for Christmas; our spiritual preparation. We are preparing for two things; we are remembering the first coming of Jesus at Christmas, and we are remembering that Jesus will come again at the end of time.
With so much emphasis on buying gifts it is easy for us to lose focus on what it’s about. In all the advertising that we hear there is almost no mention of what the feast is really about: the birth of Christ; the coming of the Son of God to set his people free from eternal death; to win the most wonderful thing imaginable for all of us: eternal happiness when we die. This is what everyone wants, even if we have very different ideas as to what happiness might be, but we all want happiness, for ourselves and those we love. This is what God has made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In the Gospel reading today, Jesus is telling us that while we get on with the ordinary things of everyday life—eating, drinking, marrying, working—we must not forget the bigger things. It is a warning to us never to become so immersed in time and the things of the world, that we forget eternity. Even though the worldly affairs are important, we must not let them distract us from the reality of God; the reality that we will die, that life and death are in his hands, and that whenever He does come for us, He must find us ready.
In one sense we can never be ready enough for God. How do you prepare to meet God? Is it a scary thought? It shouldn’t be, because that is what God has created us for and it will be wonderful beyond our wildest dreams, if we have made any effort to be ready.
Jesus says that when the Son of Man comes, of two people doing the same thing, one will be taken the other left. What does that mean? It means that although both people were doing the same ordinary things that we all have to do, one of them had not forgotten about God, but the other had; the one who had forgotten got left behind.
If we get totally immersed in the world, or in our families, or in our work, then we can miss what it is about. There is much more to our life than this.
As you well know it is often when someone becomes seriously ill, or dies, that we suddenly start realizing how much we are immersed in the world. Naturally we have to get on with the day to day things of working and living, but we are being told to make sure that we also make time for God.
I think a good recipe for a ‘happy’ Christmas, is to keep it simple and spend some time coming up to Christmas remembering what it is about. Even go to mass once a week, or spend a few minutes in a church every few days. That way we will remember what we are celebrating.
The Angel said to the shepherds:
Do not be afraid.
I bring you news of great joy.
Today in the town of David
a Saviour has been born for you;
He is Christ the Lord.