(Audio recorded live, 5 December 2021)
Bar. 5:1-9; Ps. 126; Phil. 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk. 3:1-6
Last week St. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to be blameless before God. In other words, he encourages them to keep the faith, and to remain in a state of grace. Today’s letter from St. Paul to the Philippians offers a similar encouragement. Having written this letter while in prison, he longs to be with them. But, since he can’t, he offers this prayer for them, saying, “And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” What a beautiful prayer; what beautiful encouragement from a man imprisoned for his faith. Given this context, we can see how deeply St. Paul loved the people of the communities he helped to build. His prayer was for their love to grow in knowledge, perception, and discernment, so they can be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
The day of Christ is indeed a reference to the second coming. During Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, his first coming, we are also mindful of his promise to return and take us to himself. This is one of the great hopes of our faith, and it is most certainly a guarantee, but are we prepared for his return?
When we assess our lives, all that is going on in the world around us, there are many signs pointing to the return of the Son of Man. For those with eyes to see, you don’t have to look far. What if the Son of Man were to return on the clouds today? Would we be prepared? Can we say our love has increased in every kind of knowledge and perception? Are we truly able to discern what is of value? Are we filled with the fruit of righteousness? Remember, Jesus speaks of false prophets, who come in sheep’s clothing. “By their fruits you will know them” (Matt. 7:16). In other words, there are many liars in the world, children of the enemy. Their fruits are lies, trickery, and deceit. These they do under the cover of night. But, it shall not be so for us. We rejoice in the truth, and to rejoice in the truth is to walk confidently during the day: The day of Christ.
In the Gospel, John the Baptist proclaims a passage from the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…the winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” The day of Christ is soon upon us, so let us prepare to escape the darkness of night by entering the truth of day. Let our good deeds go before us, and our intentions remain pure. Then, we will know the love of Christ first hand.