We are delighted to share the first of four Advent reflections by Monsignor Robert Draper.

Isaiah :2.1-5, Ps 121, Rom 13:11-14, Mtt 24: 37-44.

‘Let us walk in the light of the Lord..’

The season of Advent is always dominated by three sets of figures: Isaiah the great prophet of hope and promise, John the Baptist who proclaims the coming of the Lord, and Mary and Joseph through who the Saviour comes to us. The beginning of Advent always has a focus on the final days – which ties in with that aspect in the readings at the end of the Church’s year.

The preparation for the coming of the Christ as the child of Bethlehem is linked to the coming of the Christ on the last day. All three of our readings today have that emphasis, but each applies it in different ways. The wonderful vision of Isaiah is a utopian vision – all peoples come to learn the ways of God, rivalry will be over and ‘there will be no more training for war.’

It is a passage full of hope and promise, delivered to a people that is crushed and short of hope, but also proclaimed to us for our time to remind us of our hope. St Paul uses the promise of the coming daylight as a reason to call his listeners to a better way of life – to ‘live decently’ and give up immorality – again it is addressed to us! In the gospel the expected coming is a warning to be prepared because no one knows the hour, or who will be saved: “two men in the fields, one is taken, one left.” The reality of the second coming is something very much part of Christian theology and worship: “as we look forward to his second coming” (Eucharistic Prayer III).

And that should be a reason for hope – that is our promised salvation. But it is also a call to live already, here and now, as people redeemed by the Lord who is already with us. And the challenge of Jesus to “stay awake” is not so much a threat as a call to take seriously the reality that we will indeed encounter the Lord.

Monsignor Robert Draper, Diocese of Plymouth.