In Joyful Hope
First Reading (Isaiah 2. 1 – 5) Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 122) Second Reading (Romans
- 11 – 14) Gospel (Matthew 24. 37 – 44)
Jesus spoke to his disciples: “As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the
Son f Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage, until the day of Noah entered the ark, and they
knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming
of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be
“Keep awake, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But
understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the
thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be
broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an
A farmer who owned land along the Atlantic sea coast advertised for hired hands. Most
people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic coast. They dreaded the awful
storms wreaking havoc on buildings and crops. After many unsuccessful interviews, a
short, thin man showed up. “Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I
can sleep when the wind blows,” was the reply.
Puzzled by his answer but desperate for help, the farmer hired him. The little man worked
from dawn to dusk and the farmer was satisfied.
Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of the bed, the
farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the farmland. He shook him and yelled:
“Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they are blown away.”
The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No Sir, I told you: I can sleep when the
Enraged by his response, the farmer was tempted to fire him there and then. But he
hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all the
haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins, the cows were in the barn, the chickens in the
coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied
down. Nothing could be blown away.
The farmer then understood what the hired man had meant. He too returned to his bed to
sleep while the wind blew.
We secure ourselves against the storms of life by grounding ourselves on the Word of
God, which is a rock foundation. We don’t always need to understand. We need only to
trust and hold His hand to have peace in the midst of storms.
The here and now fascinates us and claims our attention. We get easily engrossed in the
present. Seldom, if ever, do we think of death. Jesus insists that we be always alert and
awake, for no one knows when death will come. Watchfulness or vigilance is something
very difficult for us as we get easily tired of watching and waiting.
Advent is a time of waiting and expectation. It is good reminder. See how attractively
and graphically Jesus describes Christian waiting. He compares Himself to a bridge
groom, and us His disciples, to brides waiting in joyful, eager expectation for the
bridegroom to come and knock at the door. Which bride would not eagerly wait for such
The imagery of the thief that comes at night is frightening and alarming. That imagery is
for those who are not friends of Jesus. For those who are His friends, Jesus comes as a
lover and at His coming His friends experience thrill and joy. So Jesus’ brides, the
faithful, pray at Mass: “…protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the
coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” And the Bride cries aloud: Come, Lord, come!
The first Sunday of the liturgical year sets our sights on life’s ultimate horizon when
Christ to us again. What will His second coming be life? For those who are eagerly
awaiting His coming. He will come as “light, love, and life”. But for those “sleeping” or
living licentious, lives, He will come as a stern judge.
When Christ the judge comes, He will strip away our masks. In fact, our approach toward
His coming indicates His judgment on our lives. On that day, will be ready to leap
joyfully towards the waiting arms of God? Or will we have to hide away in the darkness,
wallowing in guilt for our sins of commission and omission? It depends on you and me; it
all depends on the choice that we make today.
We know neither the day nor the hour of His coming. We can only say with hope, “Only
one things is certain in this life: all of us will die. Assured of the reality of death, we can
only reaffirm the message of Advent: “Stay awake…Watch,” because Christ is certainly
G.K. Chesterton was able to lose himself in a subject. An overweight man, Mr
Chesterton was once sitting in a chair, discussing a subject, when the chair collapsed
under him. He moved to another chair and continued the discussion at the exact word he
had left off. The people present were convinced that he had barely noticed the collapsing
chair and his move to a sturdier seat. Chesterton was focused on his discussion subject.
‘Seize the day’ is a translation of the Latin saying, ‘carpe diem.’ To seize the day means
to hold on to it and wring every ounce of opportunity that you can get out of it! Don’t let
it go until you’ve made the best of every situation. We are called to seize the day, to live
the present and stay prepared.
Jesus says, “You must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour”
(Matthew 24:44). He warns us to stop hiding our heads in the sand. He invites us to take
stock of what is happening. He challenges us to wake up and to come to our senses. Jesus
spoke to his disciples: “As it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of Man comes,
people eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered
the dark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will
be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24: 37 – 39).
Just as the people of Noah’s time did, we too are living in a world of many daily concerns.
There is so much to do, and so little time. We can get bogged down with our dozens of
daily concerns work, shopping, sports, getting ahead, school, cars clothes, keeping up with
the next person, carrying the baggage of addictions and frustrations. Thus we can lose
sight of the real priorities in our lives. Clearly Jesus doesn’t want us to give up eating and
drinking and getting married. He is complaining that we are lost in these things. We
should not lose sight of the real priorities in life.
Also, Jesus teaches us how to deal with darkness: “Keep awake, therefore, for you do not
know on what day your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24: 42). It refers to the wakefulness
needed in the choices we make. The choice between war or peace, darkness or light,
immorality or goodness is ours.
Isaiah speaks of going up to the temple of God, so that God can teach us his ways. We
need to make space for God. We should allow God to enter into our inner sanctuary
where our hearts listen to the Word of God. We need to withdraw to that private place
where we can meet with Him and renew our relationship with Him, and let His wisdom
guide us. Isaiah also speaks of turning implements of war into tools of peace. This is an
invitation to turn away from quarrels and disputes that so easily engulf us. This is an
invitation to discipline our tongues and cultivate peace, reconciliation, justice and love in
St. Paul clearly gives us the direction, “Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put
on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in mindless revelry and
drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy”
(Romans 13:12 – 13).
The time to put an end to grudges, rivalries, family feuds and office politics is now. Seize
In his homily in St Peter’s Basilica during Vespers before the First Sunday of the Advent
in 2009, Pope Benedict advised the faithful: Advent invites us to pause in silence to
understand a ‘Presence.’ Put aside the activities, amusements and multiple societal
‘Presence.’ Put aside the activities, amusements and multiple societal interests that can
‘possess us’ and can ‘sweep us away’ from the time to observe silence and seek signs of
God that are present in everyday life. Live the present intensely” (Catholic News
Marcus Aurelius has said, “:When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is
to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
When the prophets, apostles and Jesus spoke of the ‘Day of the Lord’, they meant to
make our living days memorable. In the first reading we hear, Isaiah’s oracle about the
day of the Lord, as a day of peace, a day of love, a day of establishment of God’s
kingdom. He points out that it will be a day of turning point, when swords will be beaten
into ploughshares, and the spears into pruning hooks. In other words, there will be no
more wars, no more prejudices. St. Paul too in his second reading goes little ahead and
speaks of the speedy coming of the day of the Lord. He mentions both hour and time.
‘That day is at hand,’ he says to indicate the nearness of the day of the Lord.
Even though the Word of God talks about the day of hope, the day of futuristic life, it’s all
meant to make this day of our memorable. All the prophets pointed out that, ‘Now’ is the
only and proper time to meet the Lord. Paul says therefore “It is the hour now for you, to
awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now, than when we first believed.” As
every day we live, is the only day we have in hands, Jesus, the Great Teacher, exhorts us
saying, ‘you also must be prepared for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will
come.’ He wants us to used to the maximum the present moment available to us, in
conjunction with the coming of the day of the Lord.
We are waiting for that day of hope, that day of the sun to come, that day of peace to
arrive, that day of promise to be fulfilled, that day of wrath to be over, that day of global
peace and justice, that day of healing that day of joy to come. Patient waiting is not
passive and silent acceptance of the situation. Nor is it a time o frustration, depression,
grumbling and whining. According to the Lord’s instruction, waiting patiently means
going through this day as the day of the Lord. ‘This is the day the Lord has made. Let us
rejoice and be glad in it.’ Live this day hopefully but faithfully and joyfully. We should
make proper decisions of our life in connection with the day of the Lord to come and
those decisions, should be wise and strong to join the community in listening to the Word,
in love walk, in charity and in good works. We too must try to make decisions rightly in
the light of the day of the Lord regarding our settlement of marriage, family management,
our profession, our employment, our studies, our entertainment our profession, our
employment, our studies, our entertainment, our leisure and our every act of love and life.
Let us lead a leisure and our every act of love and life. Let us lead a life of joy so that
others, can say to us, ‘ you are my sunshine.”