“They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

The gospel reading for the first day of Advent (Lk 21:25-28, 34-36) repeats two readings just heard in the last few days.  Jesus speaks of signs of the end times that will be coming in the sky and on the earth followed by the coming of the Son of Man (see above) for which all should be alert.  To that end, Jesus, speaking to His disciples, tells them to avoid carousing, drunkenness, and anxiety less the day of their trial (which everyone will face) finds them taken by surprise.  Jesus then urges vigilance and prayer.  Although there were miraculous events surrounding the first Christmas it certainly was not like what we are told to expect in the Second Coming.  Nevertheless, in both cases, we have Jesus, the Incarnate God, breaking into the world in an astonishing way.  Two thousand years ago, Jesus came in a manger instead of in a cloud, in humble surroundings instead of in visible power and glory.  But without the First Coming — His incarnation, His teaching, His example, His institution of the sacraments, the Paschal Mystery — our redemption would not be effected.  As far as the Babe’s power and glory, those who were given eyes to see recognized it: the Magi (“They prostrated themselves and did him homage” — Mt 2:11b), the angels (“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” — Lk 2:14), the shepherds (“glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” — Lk 2:20), Simeon (“my eyes have seen your salvation” — Lk 2:30), and Anna (“she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem” — Lk 2:38).  These first evangelists, bursting with joy at this glorious event, could not hold in the Good News.  Can we say the same?

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