Advent Waiting

My dear friends,

We have come again to the time of Advent: the Liturgical Season that highlights the joy of Christ’s first coming, which blesses us now, and the joyful hope for Christ’s return, which we still await. Advent helps us to understand the tension we sometimes experience between the Gift already given, and its perfect fulfillment that is yet to come.

“Since we have no lasting city here, but seek that which is to come” (Hebrews 13:14), we now “wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ” (prayer of the Mass). These words sum up the spirit of Advent and convey the pilgrim status of our Christian life in a passing world.

Our whole life is a kind of Advent – we are perpetually waiting for something more, which only the Lord can bring us. All our efforts to settle down cannot quell the heart’s restless yearning for complete fulfillment. Earthly peace and security remain fragile and elusive. We must not allow the passing joys of this life to put us to sleep or to make us forget the true meaning of our life beyond what we see. “Eye has not seen nor has any ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him.” There is so much more beyond our imagining. Praise God!

In this time of waiting, we live in preparedness, which is why Advent is also about mission. There are still many people who do not yet know or believe in Christ. They may never know Him, unless they encounter Him in us. Like Mary’s Advent visit to her cousin Elizabeth, we are called to bring Jesus Christ, dwelling within us, into the encounters of the day. We bring Christ to others through our love, our joy, our forgiveness and selfless service. This is how we spread the Advent Light of Christ, and this is what it means to be spiritually awake and watchful, prepared for the Lord’s second coming.

Advent Prayer for watching and staying awake:

“Dear Lord, your love urges me to stay awake and to watch for your coming. As I anticipate my joyful exodus from this life into your loving, eternal embrace, help me to keep the flame of faith alive in my heart, and the fire of love ever burning. Help me to be faithful to prayer, to carve out times each day to speak heart to heart with you. Help me especially when life becomes busy, and I am tempted to put off this time of prayer. As I make use of the things of this world and enjoy the simple gifts of life, let them not consume me so that I forget you, or let the desire for them crowd you out of my heart. Let not the pleasures of this life make me selfish, so that I become deaf to the cry of the poor and indifferent toward the needy. Let me not become so obsessed with my own life, that I fail to recognize you in the faces of those I meet each day; help me to offer them a smile and a kind, encouraging word. May I be ever ready to apologize and forgive, so that I and those I love may never go to sleep with an angry, resentful heart; help me to be a peacemaker.”

Wishing you all a blessed Advent,

Fr. Steven

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