Friday November 26, 2021
SNC Photo / Lisa A. Johnston
A sculpture of a pregnant woman with Joseph traveling to Bethlehem is seen at a church in Missouri during the Advent season, the time of anticipation and hope before Christmas.
Greetings from the peace and love of Christ! The Advent season 2021 marks the start of the new Church calendar or liturgical year in the shadow of the pandemic. The word Advent, from Latin, connotes “coming” in reference to the coming of Christ in the past, in the here and now and in the future. The season encompasses the next four weeks, from November 28 to December 24, leading up to the celebration of Christmas.
Advent is a season of joyous anticipation for the celebration of Christmas, the birthday of Christ, the “Emmanuel, God with us”. He recognizes the existence of God in the midst of the culture of materialism which denies and eliminates his presence in the world. He awakens the aspirations of our hearts and helps us prepare for what we hope to come, that is, the salvation of God – his gifts of healing, reconciliation, joy, and peace. Christ is already here with us, but he has not yet come in glory, so Advent helps us direct our hearts, minds and whole being towards the Second Coming of Christ, as well as His continued presence. with us as a source of hope.
The challenges and various worries of the past few months have overwhelmed us and many are distracted from living out their faith and hope in God. Some have not yet fully recovered or adjusted to the “new normal”. Enduring fear of infection with the virus makes others reluctant to participate in parish ministries despite the reduction in social distancing protocols and the resumption of daily and Sunday celebrations of Holy Mass as well as other sacraments. Advent helps us prepare spiritually to renew our faith and our relationship with God and with one another so that we can re-engage in the life of our ecclesial community.
Scripture readings in the coming weeks warn us to avoid the frantic business distractions of the holidays so that we can focus on Christ. They call us to silence our minds, sacrifice and discipline our hearts so that we can stay awake, vigilant in prayer and open to repentance, conversion and reconciliation, thereby experiencing the living and saving presence of God. .
Advent also provides an opportunity to reflect on the lives of important models of our faith. Since last December, we have been celebrating the Year of Saint Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis in his apostolic letter. Patris Corde (With a father’s heart), which will end this year on December 8, the solemn feast of the Immaculate Conception. Another occasion is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12.
Pope Francis describes Joseph’s relationship with Jesus as “the earthly shadow of the heavenly Father who watched and protected him”. He is a faithful servant who made hidden sacrifices for those he loved. The Blessed Virgin is the embodiment of purity, prayer, obedience and total surrender to the will of God. She offered her heart to be the home of the Son of God, Jesus our Savior. Mary became the instrument of salvation promised by God, and through her “fiat”, the “Word became flesh and lived among us”. Both serve us well as great inspirations to learn to open our hearts to the will of God and allow Christ to dwell in our hearts and in the world.
We have the grace of God and everything we need to celebrate Advent spiritually. Let us patiently await the coming of Christ with great anticipation, joy and hope. Pray, stay awake, watch and prepare the way of the Lord.
Have a nice Advent season!