Stand erect, hold your heads high. LUKE 21:25–28, 34–36
Today, as we begin the first week of Advent, Saint Luke presents a rather dramatic but soothing and encouraging story. First of all, he strongly insists that in the midst of trials and tribulations we ought to be steadfast in faith and: “Stand erect, hold your heads high”.
While it is only normal and natural to panic when unexplainable events occur, Saint Luke cautions us that we must not be too overwhelmed and lose sight of Jesus but we must: “Stand erect, hold your heads high”.
Normally, when we are in great pain and suffering whether it is physical, mental or spiritual we often slouch and walk around with deep sadness. For example, Luke 12:10–11 narrates that: “One Sabbath day Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and there before him was a woman who for eighteen years had been possessed by a spirit that crippled her; she was bent double and quite unable to stand upright”.
Similarly, Psalm 35:14 states: “….as if for a friend or a brother, I had wandered restless, as if mourning a mother, so bowed had I been in sorrow”.
Advent, undoubtedly is a time of vigilant waiting for the divine Messiah. We do so patiently and eagerly as we yearn daily for His arrival, with the sure and certain faith that He will make an appearance very soon.
Moreover, we have the great assurance that the divine Messiah will shatter the bonds of sin and death and set us free as John 8:36 mentions: “So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed”.
Galatians 5:01 also teaches that this freedom has a grave responsibility attached. It notes if: “Christ sets us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery”.
This Advent season, let us carefully heed the words of Blessed John Henry Newman who reminds us in a homily that: “Advent is a time of waiting, it is a time of joy because the coming of Christ is not only a gift of grace and salvation but it is also a time of commitment because it motivates us to live the present as a time of responsibility and vigilance.
“This ‘vigilance’ means the necessity, the urgency of an industrious, living ‘wait’. To make all this happen, then we need to wake up, as we are warned by the apostle to the Gentiles, in today’s reading to the Romans: ‘Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed’ (Rom 13:11)”.
Let us pray.
Dear Heavenly Father, as we celebrate this first Sunday in Advent, we approach your throne of mercy seeking pardon and forgiveness for our wrong doings.
Forgive us Father, for the numerous times when we were unjust, unkind and uncaring. Pardon us for the times when we were negligent and reckless in discharging our duties. Most of all Father, pardon us of our sins of omission and lack of charity and concern for others.
Father, come and transform our hearts and break the shackles of pain, suffering and sin because we genuinely want to be different. This Advent, we truly pray that Jesus, the divine Messiah, would visit our hearts.
We also pray that Jesus will liberate and emancipate us, so we could be free to follow and worship him in spirit and in truth. We pray that this Advent would be a true season of great anticipation and celebration.
Moreover, when we see signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars we would not be too perplexed but rather we would be bold to stand erect and hold our heads high since our liberation is very close at hand. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord, Amen.
The Gospel Meditations for December are by Fr Gabriel Julien, a diocesan priest.