In St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus admonishes:

“Watch, therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (24:42, 44).

Advent brings about thoughts of the second coming of Christ, and in this, we recall Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the tares. Remember that the wheat did not outgrow the tares. The harvest had to come, and then the tares were gathered up and burned.

So it is with evil in our world. At Christ’s coming in great triumph on the last day, evil will then be destroyed – not before. There is no such thing as the progressive triumph of the Church over evil until a wonderful new world spontaneously generates. Progressivism is merely the vision of a Christ-less secularism, and the Church must not be on its guard at all times against this sort of worldly, utopian fantasy. In our day, the fantasy proclaims that humanitarianism on a global scale, fueled by the requisite amount of money, will usher in a new age of peace and harmony.

Surely, the utopians underestimate the power of evil as it exists in the hearts of the most ostensibly benevolent persons. They also underestimate the glory, majesty, and Justice of God against whom evil is an offense. Because it is God who is primarily offended, only he can “fix” the problem of evil.

Those of us who believe in Christ adopt a godly strategy, we follow the word of the Lord. We wait for his triumph, and we watch!

Among the things we are waiting for this Advent is death.

Death is unavoidable. We wait for death every single day, whether we realize it or not. Mostly, we forget about it, which means that we do not consciously wait: we cover it over with many things- with anything- that might shield its horrid face from our sight.

Advent is a time in which the end of the world – Jesus’ promised return- is expected but for most of us, the world will end another way; we will die. For most of us, Jesus’s return to our sight will happen in this matter, even though we really hope for the cosmic event of his return.

The season of Advent reminds us that the coming of Christ is personal, always. It is never a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. More than anything Advent has to do with who and what will meet me in the end- be it my death, or the end of time.

Advent is so important for this very reason: we know that Christ has been born into the world and that he plans to come again- but whether we live to see the coming Christmas or any Christmas thereafter is another matter.

Advent is the time when we learn for certain that if death comes for us, it does not come alone. The Lord comes to meet us, as well. For Christians, this is a marvelous hope and release. It is almost as if Easter comes in winter.

-from Prepare the Way: Daily Meditations for Advent by Dr. Ronald Thomas