Christmas begins earlier every year in the secular world. Many shops and businesses are in competition to have the first display of lights and decorations and Christmas can almost seem anticlimactic if the focus is not on the true reason for the season. However, a new year in the Church’s calendar begins today. ‘Advent’ which comes from the Latin word adventus simply means ‘coming’. But whose coming are we preparing for? Our focus in Advent is on waiting in hope for the fulfillment of God’s promise.
The readings for today speak of the three comings of God. The first is when Jesus came to be born in the stable at Bethlehem. It also speaks of the final coming of Jesus at the end of the world. And there is still a third coming we need to be aware of, namely, when God enters our lives every day. In everyday life, we can encounter him in prayer and the sacraments, and indeed in every encounter with another person, when lived with a spirit of faith and love, we have the opportunity to deepen our relationship with God.
Our Christian hope is incomplete without this understanding of Advent. Advent is not just about preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It is a time of spiritual preparation for welcoming Christ into our lives at Christmas, but also a time of preparation for the Last Judgement. We are challenged to be hope-filled people awaiting the Lord’s coming. Jesus told his disciples: ‘You too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’ (Mt 24:44). He says the same to each one of us. We are called to a lifetime of waiting in Christian hope while undergoing conversion from sin to living in God’s presence.
Let us deepen our waiting in hope for the realization of God’s saving promise in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and stay awake in expectation of his coming.
Fr. Charles Sikorsky, President of Divine Mercy University
Divine Mercy University is an accredited Catholic graduate university of psychology and counseling located in Arlington, VA, offering both online and onsite degree programs. The unique curriculum applies the richness of Catholic teaching on the human person, marriage and the family to a rigorous program of academic studies.