Rom. 13:11-14; Lk. 21:25-33
As you may know, the New Testament epistles were written in Greek. The Greeks have two words for time, one is “chronos,” from which we get the word, “chronology,” which is the measure of time by minutes, days, weeks, months, years. The other is “kyros,” or, “time measured by the fulfillment of events.” So it is a little like my young nephew, who once asked, during the middle of November, “When is Christmas?” and someone answered, “In six weeks,” which he could not comprehend at all. And someone said to him, “Well, first we have to have Thanksgiving, then we have to put the lights on the house, then we have to get the tree, then we will put up the Nativity, then it will be Christmas,” and he understood.
In today’s Epistle, St. Paul says, “Now is the time to wake from sleep, our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” He is speaking in terms of “kyros.” All the ages have been a time of preparation for the coming of the Lord in history, He has come now, and we expect no new revelation from God. He is the fullness of the revelation of the Father. Now we await His return at the end of time. So, in terms of “kyros,” we are living in the last times. The lesson of the readings is that the Lord’s coming at the end of time is not about calculation, it is not about knowing the exact day and time, but about preparation. We want to be prepared each day for the return of the Lord at a time known only to Him.
We usually think of Advent as a time of waiting, purposeful waiting, hopeful waiting, a kind of waiting which typifies our whole lives as people of faith, as we look to the return of the Lord at the end of time. But, in light of today’s readings, we would really have to think that Advent is about the now, living in the now times. What does it mean to be ready now? The Epistle helps us. St. Paul tells us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. This is language from the baptismal liturgy, where, ontologically, in fact, by the grace of God, we are clothed with Christ. The new white baptismal garment signifies that. But now, psychologically, we must make that life of Christ our own. In our baptismal creed, we rejected the deeds of darkness, and dedicated ourselves to the deeds of Christ, who is light. So St. Paul tells us the night is over, the day has arrived, and we should live as children of the light. To live in the now time is to put aside anything which is futile, and to live in charity, hope, peace, blessing, and joyful expectation of the Lord at His return. He comes as the Son of Man, accessible, approachable, with mercy for people of faith. His coming will be a calamity for the world, but vindication for Him and for people of faith.
This is the meaning of the parable of the fig tree. It speaks to us of “kyros” and the coming of the kingdom of God. The branches swell, the leaves appear, and then the bud, the fruit, and you know that summer is near. Just so, in the order of grace, all has been fulfilled, and we know that the kingdom of God is near. This season says it in the Advent purple. The purple of Lent is the purple of penance. The purple of Advent is the purple of the dawn sky as the light penetrates the darkness. The day has dawned, we live in light, and as sure as the sun will rise to its noon day brightness, so the light will overcome the darkness, and the Lord will come again to establish His kingdom of light.