The past, present and the future walk into a bar. It was tense.
I stole that from Fr. Bryan’s joke book.
Today Jesus is talking about living in the present – always spiritually ready to meet him in person. He’s talking about living our lives in radical commitment to God and selfless love for others.
Baby Jesus is coming into our world soon. Preparing for the arrival of God made flesh is part of our Advent spiritual journey.
6th Century BC Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote something quite profound about living in the present. His wisdom rings true even today. Lao Tzu wrote: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
This the peace Jesus was always talking about.
The lesson from Christ is to live in the now, spiritually in tune with him, and be ever watchful for Jesus in our midst.
Sure the end will come and Jesus will return. No one knows when or should even try to play that guessing game. Living in the moment with Jesus (and not procrastinating growing in our faith) is how we find peace and prepare our hearts for Jesus.
Where do we find Jesus now?
Jesus is present in the love we have for our dearest ones. Have we told them today how much we love them?
Jesus is in the face of that homeless person we passed by. Did we fail to say “hello?” Just acknowledging our friends living on the streets can affirm their humanity.
Jesus is also present here in the Eucharist.
When we stay awake to Christ’s presence in our midst, we are fully awake, watchful and ready for his coming.
It’s no accident that this reading is the first Gospel of our brand-new liturgical year -- even though the conversation comes at the end of his earthly ministry. It’s part of the apocalyptic tradition.
Jesus is speaking only to his closest disciples (and to all of us). He’s leading us all to the climax of his teaching found in the next chapter of Matthew’s Gospel: Matthew 25, the final judgment.
On this the First Sunday of Advent, Jesus reminds us of our main purpose in life: to ready the way, be ever watchful for Christ in our midst, and always look forward to our eventual home with him.
As we know, this call home can come suddenly in our lives. By making Christ the center of our lives we can live in peace in the present. Noah is the model of this readiness. This is how we put on the armor of light. This is how we walk in the light of the Lord.
If we stay close to Jesus, not sleepwalking through life, we can live fully in the present with Christ.
Life is a precious and fragile gift. This is how we celebrate life.