Today's readings can be found here.
In advent, we remember the first coming of Jesus, (the just shoot from the house of David) and we anticipate the day when He will come again. Jesus came to answer the psalm, “Your ways, O LORD, make known to me; teach me your paths, Guide me in your truth and teach me” In His life on Earth, Jesus succeeded in teaching us His paths, and guiding us to the truth. One of His most important teachings we call the Greatest Commandment, 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' and to 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' (Matt 22:37,39)
The theme of loving God and neighbor runs throughout the Bible. Our Old Testament heroes often were faced with challenges to their faith be it: following Gods will (Abraham), leading others to follow God (Moses), or not honoring other Gods (Daniel). We consider them our heroes because they chose to love and obey God even thought it meant they might die, lose their families, homeland or security.
The New Testament features this theme as well, but usually as encouragement to a community who was struggling to love God and neighbor. The second reading from the first book of Thessalonians says, “ May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all..so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God… you should conduct yourselves to please God” The scripture is a prayer for the community to love others better to please God. Loving others is a way to increase holiness and to honor the Greatest Commandment.
The Gospel, of course, features the theme of loving God and neighbor again and again by Jesus' teachings and actions. In today's readings, however, Jesus speaks of His second coming and what His followers can expect. When the signs happen, people who have obeyed the Greatest Commandment should, “stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” Even with the world crashing around us, we should be reassured that loving God and loving our neighbor the ultimate thing we can do.
Jesus gives us a little warning, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing ...and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” We need to be prepared at any moment, so we need to be loving in every moment. We do not know when we will take our last breath, so every breath should be for love. We do not know our last word, so every word should be of love. He is coming. One day, near or far, we will meet Him. We have to be aware of opportunities to follow the path that God laid out and Jesus showed us how to walk on. This is the advent of our King.
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