1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2
Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Advent is a time of anticipation, a time of waiting. As committed Christians we actively wait for the second coming of the Christ at some unknown time in the future. But each year at Christmas we celebrate Jesus’ first coming into our midst. As we prepare for Christmas, we are reminded of the birth of Christ into our history and into our individual lives. And each year we are also reminded that Jesus the Christ will return in glory. Every year the Church calls each of us to prepare for and to look at the implications of this holy season of Advent because Advent truly is a time of remembrance and a time of preparation for each of us. But sad to say, in our busy society, preparations for the Christmas season usually begin right after Halloween and then more rigorously around Thanksgiving. You know how it goes — What gifts to buy? Who to invite to the Christmas dinner? What clothes do we need?
Among all the bustle of activity, we often forget the real purpose of Advent and Christmas which is a call by the Church to prepare for a holy feast, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation. In addition, we are challenged to prepare for the end time or Parousia when we know neither the day nor the time when it will occur. The word “advent” points to the arrival of something momentous. For Christians those events are the remembrance of the momentous occasion of Jesus’ birth into our world which we celebrate each Christmas day and the second coming of the Christ at the Parousia or end time.
Since the focus of the Advent season culminates with the celebration of the physical birth of Jesus and anticipates the second coming of the Christ in glory at some time in the future, we are called to a spiritual renewal, a spiritual preparation during the holy season of Advent. Just as we participate in the festivities surrounding gift-giving, family meals, and decorations to warm our homes for Christmas, we should also participate in activities that prepare our hearts to once again celebrate and welcome the Christ into our world, into our homes, and into the very core of our being.
We need to remember that Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year. As Christians, this new beginning should hold more importance for us than our secular celebration of New Year’s Day. Instead of waiting for New Year’s Day to make resolutions (which we often don’t keep), give your resolutions a spiritual motivation by making them at the beginning of the new liturgical year this Sunday.
God longs for us to be generous with our lives in this world so that at the end of our lives we can return back to God our well used gift of life poured out over the years in love for God and love for others. May you and I make this Advent, this time of preparation and waiting, a time of spiritual growth in our relationship with God and others.
What are some distractions that prevent you from understanding and living Advent in a spiritual way?
What are some resolutions you can make to improve your relationship with your loving and compassionate God?