Vigilance (On the Eve of Advent)

Luke 21: 34-36
Dn 7:15-27 / Dn 3

Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.
(Luke 21:36)

Let no carousing or drunkenness,
Lead to spiritual weaknesses;
Our best defense against the lure of sin
Are perseverance and discipline.

Jesus said to his disciples:“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Reflection

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. Christmas will soon be upon us once more, that time of the year when most people throw caution to the wind as they indulge in rich fatty foods (lechon), and wallow in the merriment of alcoholic beverages. But it is precisely during this season of “carousing and drunkenness” that we should step back and reflect on the message of our Lord in today’s Gospel. The circumstances that existed just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 were probably very similar to those that we are experiencing today. It was a time of affluence, when people were more concerned with worldly pursuits, and those who were drawn to the faith by the early Church were being severely persecuted. Jesus said to His disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.” (21:34) Like an unexpected stroke or heart attack, no one is immune “who lives on the face of the earth.” Especially those who love the revelry of wine, women and song, who hardly ever get any exercise because they wake up late in the morning, and are stressed out by their sedentary lifestyle in the office. As one doctor commented, they are like walking time bombs. Anytime, they can just go off.

Jesus knows our weaknesses. In today’s Gospel, He urges us to be vigilant in order to persevere till the end in affirming true life and denying the illusions of material pleasures and anxieties. The Lord knew then as He does now that it is not easy to live the Christian life. In the final moments of His life, He knew that He was going to undergo passion, torture, and death at the hands of Jewish religious authorities. The time was coming when He would illustrate how it was to obey the will of the Father until the very end despite tremendous injustice and persecution.

As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, let us temper our celebrations with prayer, meditation of God’s Word, and charity towards the poor, which never fails to make this season more meaningful. These are what will put us in good standing before the Son of Man when we come before Him in judgment.

Father God, on this eve of Advent, please let Your Holy Spirit keep us vigilant and prayerful, well prepared for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, for it is during times of celebration that we become complacent and vulnerable to the temptation of the evil one. Help us, Father, to be worthy of His coming. Amen.

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