WHO is Advent?
Editor’s Note: The first Sunday of Advent is Nov. 29. The following column is reprinted from a previous issue.
Don’t you mean “what is Advent?” Advent means “coming” or “arriving.” Thus, it is “who is coming or arriving; Who is Advent?” And the answer is -- Jesus! And how does Jesus come?
• we celebrate our Savior’s past coming in history: as a babe in the manger 2000 years ago;
• we celebrate our Savior’s present coming in mystery: as He is present today at each Holy Mass in Word and Sacrament and people and prayer; and
• we celebrate our Savior’s future coming in majesty: as He comes at the end of the world in glory as our just and merciful Judge.
In History. Advent is a time of preparation to celebrate a great anniversary of history. The Jewish people thousands of years ago eagerly awaited the birth of our Savior. Isaiah says to the Lord, “Return for the sake of your servants” (Isaiah 63:17). The Israelites knew they needed a Savior. They were “sinful; all of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags” (Isaiah 64:4-5). Only with Emmanuel, “God with us,” could they be freed of their sins. Only with the Christ, the Anointed One, could they receive the grace to become holy again. You can sense their intense longing for his coming.
How do we prepare for this anniversary on December 25? Is it a frenzy of activity, shopping, parties, stress, frustration, and exhaustion? Or is it a prayerful, patient time for Jesus, family, parish, and community? Do we give our time, abilities, and tithe-alms to Jesus, our parish, and those in need this holy season of Advent?
In Mystery. Advent is a time of preparation to celebrate Jesus’ coming at every Mass in mystery with the same longing that Israel had for His coming. Jesus is present in the sacred scriptures, for He is the “Word made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). St. Paul said in that in Jesus “you were enriched in every way” (1 Corinthians 1:5). Jesus enriches us with His Body and Blood at the Eucharistic Sacrifice. He comes to us daily in prayer, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
How do we prepare for the coming of Jesus each day? Do we wait to speak with Him and listen to Him only during the weekend Mass? Or do we begin each day with a prayer, listen to His will during work or school, thank Him for His blessings before meals, read and meditate on his Holy Word every day, and ask for forgiveness of our sins at the end of the day?
In Majesty. Advent is a time to prepare for Jesus’ second coming in majesty at the end of the world. Jesus told His disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:33). This time describes our personal judgment, when we each individually die. At death, we face the just and merciful judgment of God. In the final judgment, Jesus comes again in glory at the end of the world. We eagerly await this glorious coming of Christ our King.
How do we prepare for the coming of Jesus as Judge of our life? Do we sin through presumption, assuming that all is well with our moral life? Or do we celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly? Our parishes have Penance Services during December, in addition to regularly scheduled times for the Sacrament of Confession. Let us ask Jesus for His gift of forgiveness and healing.
Thank you, Lord, for coming in our lives in history and mystery, and we anticipate your coming in majesty. Let us participate daily in your coming, through prayer, sacraments, and acts of stewardship. Let us anticipate the joy of your presence. You love us more than we can ask or imagine!