As Advent begins, we look forward to the celebration of Jesus’ first coming to the world in the light of a text that promises his final coming. We, like the gospel writer, Luke, live in the time between these two “advents” of Jesus. Today’s gospel gives us guidance on how to live faithfully as we wait for Jesus to return. However, in this in-between time, it is easy for us to become distracted and lose sight of the promises of Jesus. Daily tasks and routines can lull us into apathy. Ease and success can allow us to ignore our spiritual needs. Struggles, setbacks, and disappointments can cause us to lose hope and fall into despair. But Jesus tells us we should not feel beaten down or defeated by the struggles of this world, but instead “stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
Jesus goes on to say that there will be signs, signs of new life and growth, such as the sprouting of a leaf on a fig tree in the summertime. These signs are perceptible to us here and now. These signs help us know that God’s kingdom is coming. In fact, they remind us that in Jesus, God’s kingdom has already come near, and Jesus words will not pass away until this kingdom has fully come. We should live with our eyes focused on today’s signs that demonstrate God’s reign and trust that Jesus’ redemption of the world will one day be complete.
Gospel: Luke 21:25-36
God will fulfill God’s purposes and, already, hidden signs of that fulfillment abound. On that great day there will be dismay, perplexity, confusion, and terror, but God’s people shall be given strength to stand boldly and receive God’s promised redemption.
[Jesus said:] 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”