Advent 3 – Sunday

Advent3 Sunday


“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Luke 3:16

The Church is divided on the meaning of “fire” in this passage. Some say that it is the foretelling of the tongues of fire that rested on the Apostles the Day of Pentecost. Others remind us that “fire” consistently represents judgment or the “Day” of judgment. We understand that Jesus came as a “suffering servant” in his first incarnation and will return in glory as judge in his second coming, so I’m inclined to think it’s the latter, i.e., judgment.

If this is so, should we fear Jesus’ second coming?  Should we be nervous when he comes as our judge?  St. Paul gives us a picture of the “Day” in 1 Corinthians 3.  He teaches the Church in Corinth:

12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”

Here’s the picture: On the “Day” I will stand before Christ waiting for judgment.  I will present my deeds to him while I lived an earthly life.  Jesus will then judge my deeds. They will be put into two categories:  “gold, silver and costly stones,” and “wood, hay and straw.” “Gold, silver and costly stones” represent the deeds of mine that have eternal value….the good deeds…the treasures I have stored up in heaven. “Wood, hay and straw,” represent all those things that were bad and have no eternal value.

Now,  I stand before God with all my deeds which will be tested with fire (judged). Picture this:  I have all my good deeds to offer God in my right hand and all my not-so-good deeds in my left. Jesus says, “OK Ed, walk through the fire so that we can test your deeds. As a follower of Christ, I walk through the fire and survive.  All of the wood, hay and straw will be burned and I will only have ashes in my left hand. All the good deeds, the gold, silver and costly stones, will survive the fire and THAT is what I have to offer for the life I’ve lived. Some will stand before God with a heap of ashes and nothing in their right hand. Others, like me, will have ashes (we’ll all have ashes), but the good things I’ve done here on earth will be what I can offer God; my gifts will be the representation of all the good I’ve done here on earth.

On this Second Sunday of Advent, ask yourself the question: “What will I have to offer God when I stand before him?” And if your answer is “ashes,” then maybe it’s time to start storing up some treasures in heaven. Go do some good deeds that will have eternal value. Help someone. Share something you own. Speak a kind word to someone who is sad. You’ll know what to do when the opportunity arises and one Day, you’ll be glad you did.

+Ed Jansen

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