將臨期的英文是 “Advent”，意即「來臨」，教會就在這時期準備慶祝天主降生成人。隨着將臨期展開，天主教教會的着眼點是時間的盡頭，這種向前瞻的態度使每個教友的日子過得有意義，也令整個團體內的信眾的生命有意義。「來吧，主耶穌」(Maranatha) 是將臨期的禱文；自從基督光榮地升天，坐在聖父之右那一刻開始，世界都期待着衪再來，但無人知道會在何時何日。教會呼喚所有人在基督再來之前皈依，耶穌已播下天國的種籽。在基督再來時，天國的壯麗輝煌將會被完全彰顯。將臨期是要作決定的時期：因為基督就會在我們意料不到的時辰回來；所以我們必須時刻警覺醒寤，隨時準備迎接主的來臨。
衪在橄欖山上坐著的時候， 門徒前來私下對衪說：「請告訴我們：什麼時候要發生這些事? 又什麼是你來臨和時代窮盡的先兆? 」(瑪:24.3)
這篇默想是以 Foundations in Faith – Catechist Catechumenate Manual 為根據，並獲得版權持有人 RCL Benziger, LLC 批准使用。
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz, saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. In days to come, the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it; many peoples shall come and say: “Come, let us climb the LORD's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths.” For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Brothers and sisters:
You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
Today's first reading from Isaiah uses a very old image of all nations coming together to God on a mountain to describe in eschatological terms the final fulfillment of the hopes of Israel. The passage tells us that not just Israel, but all people will be drawn to God, bringing both judgment and true peace. In Paul‘s letter to the Romans, he develops the theme of readiness in moral terms. As Christians live in a time of tension, Paul uses the contrast of darkness and light to make his point that these are not merely external conditions over which we have no control, but are qualities of our lives that we may choose with God's help. In the Gospel, Matthew also tells how frightening the notion of a coming is as sudden and devastating as the flood in Noah's time. No one knows who will be taken away and who will be left.
'Advent', meaning 'Arrival', is a season during which the Church prepares to celebrate the Incarnation, the birth of the Lord. As the season of Advent begins to unfold, the Catholic Church looks towards the end of historical time. This forward-looking stance gives meaning to all days and years of the individual believers and to the life of the whole community of the faithful. Maranatha, “Come, Lord Jesus” is an Advent prayer. From the moment in time when Christ ascended in glory to be seated at the right hand of God, the world has been on the verge of his imminent return. But no one knows the day or the hour. The Church calls all people to conversion before the second coming of Christ. The seeds of the kingdom have been sown by Jesus. The full splendor of the kingdom of God will be fully revealed at the second coming of Christ. Advent is a time for decision. Because of the unexpected nature of the Lord's return, we must be ready and remain vigilant to receive the Lord when he arrives.
As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Mat 24:3)
“But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Mat 24:36)
Are you ready?
This material is adapted from the Foundations in Faith – Catechist Catechumenate Manual with the permission of the copyright holder, RCL Benziger, LLC.