My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
This week, we begin the Season of Advent, a time of waiting and preparation, not only for Christmas and a remembrance of Christ’s coming into the world, but also for the second coming of Jesus at the end of the world. We call it the Parousia. In the Mass, we proclaim after the Consecration; Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. We prepare for that second coming of Christ in the time allotted to each one of our human lives.
But we can only prepare in the manageable time period. Advent, with its four weeks (this year there are only three full weeks), gives us a dress rehearsal for the end times and our own personal end in human death. The dominant message, however, is hope as waiting implies hope.
The one thing that we all do not like to do is wait. We have to wait in Brooklyn and Queens in traffic which seems to get ever so slow as lanes are reduced to traffic and bicycle lanes take up the extra space we once counted on to be able to pass another car that was stopped or double parked. What an experience of waiting we have during this Advent!
Perhaps we can turn those difficult waits in lines at the supermarket, or at the other times when we know that the waiting will end, into understanding that something positive will happen.
But how can we prepare for the celebration of the encounter with Christ at Christmas and at the second coming all in just three weeks?
A favorite author of mine, long deceased, named Carlo Carretto, in a book entitled, “The God Who Comes,” says, “God always comes. He comes in the creation of the light as he came again in Adam. He came in Abraham and again in Moses. He came in Elijah and He came most of all in Jesus. It is God who comes in time throughout history. He localizes Himself in the geography of the cosmos and in the conscience of many in the person of Christ. He has come and He is still to come.”
Yes, we await Jesus who is still to come in each one of our lives. However, He does come and we fail to recognize Him in the people around us and in the circumstances of life that point to God if we take the time to notice. The preparation time of Advent is a time of longing and expectation. It is a time when we should give ourselves a little extra time for prayer and meditation. Those times may be the fitful times when we wait in different circumstances, times when we would rather not wait.
During this time of preparation for Christmas, there are many good deeds that we can perform to assist those, especially those who do not have hope, who have given up waiting for a better world, a better job or a better place to live. One of the ways we can assist these people is through the Bright Christmas program of The Tablet. This long-established tradition of The Tablet, and now DeSales Media, is able to assist many of our most needy with the extra help they can use at this special time of year to make sure that every Christmas is bright. You may find out more about the Bright Christmas program here.
It is Christ the light of the world whom we prepare to welcome at Christmas. The preparation that goes on in some parts of our diocese in Brooklyn and Queens features terrific Christmas light shows, some of which seem to annoy the neighbors. But this is truly in keeping with the welcome we expect for Christ. For it is Christ who enlightens the darkness and who brings light to every human heart.
Advent is a time when we put out into the deep, searching our souls for the remnants of hope that need to be rekindled. We must recognize that life, indeed, is an exercise in hope, not knowing what our future is to be. But hope gives us the grace to trust in the providence of God and in Christ, our Savior, who comes to us in a special way at Christmas to enlighten the way that we might find the happiness of Christmas and beyond.