The word “Advent” is a great word. It is a word filled with Hope, because it points forward to something desirable. With the winter chill gone I always look forward to the coming of Summer. If you are a cricket or tennis buff, you look forward to seeing your favourite team in action or the best players in the world competing for tennis championship matches. If you are an engaged person, you look forward to sharing the rest of your life with a member of the opposite sex. If you are a child (and aren’t we all), you look forward to the joys of Christmas. Whatever our individual situation, we need to wait; and we usually need a good dose of patience, as we eagerly expect our hopes to become fulfilled.
But if you are a Christian, you also look forward to something else. As I said in a homily once years ago, the season of Advent looks forward to the Future, and because of that it also reminds us of our Past. Advent is a time of Hope - a hope of being delivered from a Past that may have separated us from Jesus Christ.
This is where the words of Jesus today help us. He reminds us all that everyone on earth will need to stand secure before God on judgment day; and the time to prepare is right now. The challenge and hope is to trust in Jesus, and to bring our lives back into line with his holy word and with the teachings of the successors to the apostles, the bishops. When we do that, we can look forward to “that day” with great hope, and great trust in Jesus. His words are not “chilling” for those striving to lead a real Christian life; because for them his words are hope-filled!
Jesus calls us all to watchfulness, as we hope in his second coming in glory. Not only does an active hope give us joy, it also keeps our prayer life alive and ready to resist temptation. The virtue and gift of hope keeps our focus on our eternal goal, and humble before the Giver of this gift.