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The Coming of the Son of Man

The great Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, is reported to have once addressed a gathering of Catholic priests. He acknowledged that the great difference between believing Christians and believing Jews was that Jews were still waiting for the Messiah, while Christians were waiting for him to come again. And he appealed to them: "let us wait for him together."Then in a genial Hasidic improvisation, Buber continued:

And, when he comes, we will ask him: "Have you already been here?" When that happens, Buber said, "I hope to be close enough so I can whisper in his ear: for heaven's sake -- don't answer!"

While we wait, we might well heed the admonition of the author of Hebrews:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

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Words to live by, both Bubers and Hebrews. Regardless who won the election, half the country would have seen the Day drawing near. Might these words provide a way forward for a red state/blue state divided nation?

Thanks for this meditation. Whenever I read a passage like this from Hebrews, I think the author must have been (in some timeshifting universe) at least one part Baptist preacher. The language is just meant to be proclaimed!

Thanks for getting the Advent ball rolling in such a nice way, Father.I've always liked that expression "confession of hope." I'm not sure how much faith I have, or even charity some days. But I continue to hope that the message of Christ is true and to live accordingly.

Hope is the hardest virtue, or so it seems to me.

Jean and John,I'm always struck that 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts us to "be prepared to give an account of the hope that is in you." One might have expected him to say "faith." He adds: "do it with gentleness and reverence."The beginning of the Epistle makes it clear that the living hope to which we are re-born is founded on the Father's raising Jesus from the dead.

Yes, the miracle of Christ's resurrection illustrates God's infinite power to become human and return to us, and it gives believers hope. What I find sad is the way Catholics sometimes beat down each other's hopes by scolding each other about the rules you have to follow in order to achieve salvation. But, then, Jesus himself said it was a narrow door. We won't all find it.

Wonderful Jewish and Christian wisdom

What a perfect Buber story. I love it!

Lovely. Thanks, Father I.

Wonderful post -- many thanks. Dante, in describing his "entrance exam" into Paradise (though actually he's already there) describes Peter questioning him on Faith, James on Hope, and John on Love.

I told that story during Thanksgiving dinner. I introduced it with an ominous: "I have a Jewish joke to tell". But it was a big success!

My class visited a synagogue and one student asked the Rabbi what he would say if he died and met Jesus in heaven - his great response was: "oooops!!"

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About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is an associate professor of theology at Boston College.