Sunday, December 2, 2012

Looking ahead

By Father Perry D. Leiker

"And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory."

Today marks the beginning of Advent, which is the season in which we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Some might mistake this to be an announcement about the birth of Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the last few weeks we have been listening to apocalyptic readings that speak about the end times, we can readily see that today's Gospel actually gives us more of the same.

Why do we focus on Jesus' second coming during the season of Advent (Latin for adventus or "coming")? Actually, we do both. We prepare for the coming of Jesus in his birth (Christmas) and the coming of Jesus at the end of time (the second coming).

The readings clearly focus on the end times, but as the season progresses and we come closer to the solemnity of the birth of Jesus, we focus first on Mary and then finally on the actual story of the birth of the Lord. It is a great season in two parts, or rather, back to back we celebrate the preparation for the birth (Advent) and the actual birth (Christmas).

The bottom line is this: We need to be ready. We need to be alert. What a tragedy it would be if Jesus came and we missed it or didn’t really recognize his coming. Is that possible? Could we be too busy or too distracted or too spiritually unfocused to miss it?

The church spends four weeks of preparation to help us stay focused and alert. The stores spend much more time. They began the day after Thanksgiving to focus all of our attention on buying and spending and getting ready for party after party. Christmas lights are already up. Christmas music is in every elevator and everywhere! It’s all good, and it’s all consuming.

Spiritually, we need to make time to prepare, to stay awake, alert and ready because the Lord is coming, and we certainly do not want to miss it!

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142.

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