We expect a lot of things from Jesus Christ. The Jewish people did too at his first coming. Their expectation came from our first reading from Isaiah; the title Christ literally means the anointed one, and the passage from Isaiah prophesies what the anointed one, what Christ would do. He would bring glad tidings to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to captives, and announce a year of favor from the Lord. So when John the Baptist begins preaching, the people approach with an expectation, a question of whether he might be the anointed one to do all these things. Ever the faithful servant, John tells them that he is not the anointed one, he is not Christ… but he preserves their hope. He tells them not only that the Christ is already among them and they should thus have eager expectation, but that he is not worthy even to untie his sandal, that this Christ is going to be something far greater than they think. Certainly we believe by faith that this was true, that by his death and resurrection Christ brought the gladness, the healing, the freedom of destroying the power of sin and death forever.
When we turn our minds to the second coming of Christ, like the Jewish people in the past we have expectations. In a few moments we will profess in the Nicene Creed our expectation that “he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” It’s good that we say and believe those words, but I encourage you to strive for the maturity of faith that goes beyond memorization and wrestles with understanding. What do you expect it will be like when Jesus Christ acts as judge over us as a community as much as individuals? What do you expect the kingdom will be like when creation and history are brought to their fulfillment?
Perhaps the better word would be “hope”… not just your expectation, but what is your hope that these things will be like? I suppose as we’ve been talking about building friendship the past few weeks, that my hope and expectation of the kingdom will be that every person will approach each other truly as friends. Imagine that day ahead of us when every person you encounter has the same depth of love that you and your best friend have. Imagine in every moment that you gladly care for the people around you before giving a single thought about yourself and that they all do the same. And imagine that all the hurt and resentment with your enemies have been healed, and now there is only understanding and peace.
John the Baptist cried out in the desert to make straight his paths, to prepare the way of the Lord. That was a wise message at his first coming, and is still a wise message for his second coming. I expect and hope that Christ will be a merciful judge on that day of glory. That’s actually one of the Church’s prayers during funerals, that the deceased will find in him a merciful judge. But regardless, I know that Jesus will look at the life that we have lived together and show us where we did honor to the name of Christian and where we fell short. In other words, he will tell us if we have made straight his path and prepared a world that reflects the kingdom that is coming into its fullness. He will ask us – I pray with the same mercy and understanding that we read in the gospels – if we have lived as the loving friends that he expects us to be in his kingdom.
St. Paul prayed that the God of peace would make us perfectly holy, preserved blamelessly in spirit, soul, and body for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He was praying that all of us… who are his friends even though he had never met us nor could imagine our world so many centuries later… he was praying that we would prepare the way of the Lord by living as though we were already enjoying the fullness of the kingdom. May this Advent time stir us up to strive for that again, to live our lives in the grace of Christ and in the imitation of him alone.
Sign up here to have newly posted homilies sent right to your email.
Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.