The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”
Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.
Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
and he makes his covenant known to them.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
Brothers and sisters:
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus that, as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God (as, in fact, you are doing), you should do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples, “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
When we experience eclipses of the sun and moon, the aligning of planets, comets and meteors appearing or weather phenomenon like hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, it should help us think of the first line of the Gospel reading. What sort of power would cause so much fear and foreboding as described? The warning we are meant to receive is simply to have our hearts ready.
As we are to understand it, the universe and earth will be behaving erratically yet the concern that Jesus has is the individual heart. Think about what sort of eruption should take place in our hearts that our failsafe is faith and a conscience that knows, as St. Paul says to the Thessalonians, how we ought to live and to please God.
The shorter days and long dark nights of Advent remind us of our need for salvation and we remember God’s promise. Emmanuel is our hope. He is the wisdom that teaches and guides us and we should long for his coming and for him to come quickly.
This Advent, for our hearts to be strong enough to face the Lord with faith, we avail ourselves of the grace of the season to be reconciled fully with the Lord and set aside anything that steals our devotion to him so we can cultivate hearts that are free.