My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Time seems to rule our lives. The alarm clock wakes us up in the morning and we set it the night before. How many other times during a day do we look at either a watch, a clock or a cell phone to see what time it is? We live as if time is of the essence. Most of us hate to waste time, meaning that we are doing nothing as time goes by. How many times do we say ‘time is flying by so fast’ or ‘I can’t believe that Christmas is so close’? It seems in many ways that time does rule our lives.
But there are different types of time. The time I just described is called “Chronos” in Greek, or chronological time. This is how we mark the seconds, minutes, hours and days of the year.
But there is another kind of time that we are approaching now at Advent. Advent is a time of grace, called “Kairos,” another Greek word which means a graced time. As we have begun Advent, we recognize that it is our preparation time for the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, in time, as a historical event. While at the same time, we prepare not only to commemorate the historical event but also to welcome Christ in a spiritual way, in a graced moment at Christmas where we can understand what the Incarnation and the birth of Jesus means to us.
There is also another event that we recognize in Advent, and that is the second coming of Christ. In our Gospel today, we hear Jesus speaking about the events that might surround His coming again. It is truly part of our faith that we believe that Jesus will return to the world at some time. His coming, which we call the Parousia, or the second coming, is something that will mark the end time, or the end of the world. Again, time seems to be something that constrains our lives.
In the Acclamation after the Consecration we say, “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” The second coming of Christ is the time when I believe, at least personally, that the world will have come to a better place; the world will have come to completion. We hear in the letter from Paul that all things will be restored in Christ. It is then that I believe that Christ will return. If one follows that kind of reasoning, I do not think that we will have to worry about the world ending too soon. In these two millennium, since His birth, our world certainly has not come closer to perfection or completion. We see today such diversions from the reign and kingdom of Christ.
Advent is a period of four weeks time given to us to prepare spiritually for the coming of the Savior to us individually. We all need to be saved from something; from our personal faults and sins, from the anxiety that sometimes this world thrusts upon us, from all of the things that can go wrong, we want to be saved. We want a savior. Jesus is that Savior, however, we have to recognize how He comes to us. In time and in some day in eternity, Christ comes to us through the daily events of life when we least expect or even recognize His coming to us. Advent is a time of hope and expectation. If we think about the Lord and pray more deeply during Advent, we will see Him influencing us in our lives in ways that we can miss if we are not conscious of His presence among us.
Each time we come to the Eucharist, we proclaim the death, the rising and second coming of Jesus Christ. We have put out into the deep waters of Advent that bring us to Christmas and pledge ourselves to make this Advent a time when we deepen our spiritual relationship to Christ, the Savior, who was born in time, but who always gives us the time we need in our lives to cultivate that needed relationship with God. These truly are graced days that are given to us in Advent.