by Erik Ritland
The Word and the Church
Bible commentary following the Catholic Lectionary (which gives an overview of the entire Bible) by the Fully Alive staff
The First Sunday of Advent
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Is 2: 1-5
Rom 13: 11-14
Mt. 24: 37-44
Today’s Gospel lays the foundation for the season of Advent. Jesus says “…stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” During this blessed season of preparation each member of the Church solemnly waits the coming of God in the flesh. During Advent we stay alert, preparing for when God makes his triumphant entrance onto the scene, not with worldly power and splendor, but in the form of a helpless baby. Only God could come up with something so ingenious, so subversive, so unexpected.
Stay awake, be alert: these are the rallying cries of Advent, as we prepare for God’s coming both in the birth of Jesus Christ and his second coming. We look back at the story of Noah, remembering how the people of his time carried on with their lives without knowing the destruction of the flood that lay ahead. Jesus, the God-man, warns us that we are in similar times. Indeed, that the times of Noah pointed towards today.
Jesus’ coming signals the ultimate peace that Isaiah speaks of in the first reading, and this is quite assuring, but we cannot fool ourselves. Jesus will return, like a thief in the night, as unexpectedly as when he appeared the first time, and we are to always be prepared to meet him. As St. Paul says in the second reading: “You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep…the night is advanced, the day is at hand.” We are to live according to his will, as members of his kingdom. This kingdom program is laid out clearly in the Gospels: it means being humble, sacrificing ourselves, radiating God’s love, and living according to the teachings and example of Jesus Christ.
Although it can seem frightening, Jesus is very clear throughout the Gospels that the end is coming and we are to be prepared for it. During Advent we look forward to, and anxiously await, both his first arrival in the manger in Bethlehem and his second at an hour that we’ll least expect.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician. He is the lead staff writer and podcast host of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, which features commentary on music, sports, and an intellectual ragbag. He was also Lead Staff Writer for Minnesota culture blogs Curious North and Hometown Hustle. Reach him via email.
Erik Ritland received his MA in Theology in 2017. He's the founder and content manager of Fully Alive Christian Media and Rambling On, copy editor and writer for Music in Minnesota, and an acclaimed songwriter.