Happy New Year! The Church’s Calendar begins today. The word “Advent” means “coming” and starts with a message similar to the theme of last week’s Liturgy of the Word for the Solemnity of Christ the King! Be ready and watch, for the coming of the Lord Jesus! However, it means a little more than just coming/arriving; it conveys to us expectancy within the person waiting. This can be understood in three ways.
First, we anticipate Christ’s advent at Christmas. We go beyond the materialism of the modern world, to focus on the real meaning of the feast: God enters human existence in a totally personal way.
Second, we look forward to Jesus’ continuing arrival in our lives, through the development of our faith, and the sharpening of our insight, so that we can see God’s saving work at hand in Christ. This is seen and heard through His Word, Sacrament and Community. Thus in a mystical way, we bring his body into the world through His union with us, and then we become more alert to his living presence within the Church, and the mission beyond.
Finally, we speculate on the end of this universe at the conclusion of time, as we know it, as well as the Second coming of Christ. The universe is not self-sustaining. Eventually it will terminate in some sort of extinction. ‘Solar System time’ is finite. It will reach a culmination either in a vast cataclysm or total dissolution. However, the conversation should be open to the question: – Are we the only Planet that sustains human life in our Galaxy who is known to God? So, welcome to Year A! During Advent and Lent, the three Readings in the Liturgy of the Word are linked….see if you can see, and hear the links!
Christmas is nearly here! Well, as far as the shops go, Christmas has been here for at least two or three months. For some, it starts and ends there! Christmas Day will only be celebrated with presents, decorations and Dinner! For others, Advent is marked by the lighting of the first Purple candle; the Prophets Candle, in our Advent Wreath. We will also be challenged by God’s Word…Be alert! Stay awake for we know not when the Lord comes! Come, Lord Jesus!
Maranartha! Come, Lord Jesus! Advent is a fantastic time, to sharpen our awareness to Christ who continually comes to us and is with us. Advent is a time for us to STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN to God’s Kingdom present, but not yet fully realised. Advent is a time for us to check out the virtue of Hope! It is a time for us to re evaluate our relationship with God, and each other. It is a time to be strengthened by God’s Word, and to facilitate the Spirit’s activity within us, so that we may discern with sharper spiritual vision, the constant invitations to respond to Christ in His Word, in Sacrament, and within His people…..our sisters and brothers; every day!
Advent has more social opposition than Lent! December in the Southern Hemisphere is ‘party time’, beach time, and preparation for holidays. Whereas for our Northern Hemisphere sisters and brothers, it is mostly cold, dark, snowy, wet and gloomy; punctuated by dazzling coloured lights in the Cities, Towns and Villages. In the country areas, the gathering around gorgeous fire places, preparing to eat Baked Ham and Turkey, Plum Puddings with Brandy Custard, and shopping for presents are on their minds, and ours. Christmas is right in our faces; from the moment we hop into our car to go somewhere. Advent is a subtle undercurrent which when visited, ingested, and savoured, has the ability to nudge us to see the world, and its people, as truly God’s people, with the latent Missionary adventure, of bringing Heaven to Earth, as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer. The season of Advent is a time and opportunity for inner renewal, the discarding of numbing ways which can inhibit our feeling for, and response to, the Christ who comes to us all the time in Word, Sacrament and His People.
May we all be blessed during this time of Advent, and as we engage in savouring God’s Word, may the Spirit of God find a responsive heart in all of us. God Bless you and your families.