By Rita Piro
IT’S BEEN A BIT of a different Advent this year. For starters, the season began more than a week after Thanksgiving. When you are used to lighting that first candle of Advent the Sunday immediately following Thanksgiving, this twist in the liturgical calendar was a challenge for many of us.
So confusing was the start of Advent this year that several prominent Catholic television programs even introduced Dec. 3 as the Second Sunday of Advent.
Further complicating matters is the fact that this year is the shortest time period that Advent can run. Last year, Advent spanned a full four weeks plus six days. This year, it is barely three weeks from the first Sunday of Advent to Christmas Eve, which also happens to be the fourth Sunday of Advent.
Families are rushing to set up up their Christmas trees and lights. Shoppers are dealing with less time to tackle their gift lists. Cooking and baking schedules are on the fast track. And oh my, is it time to light the pink candle for Gaudete Sunday already?
We most often take the word Advent to mean coming or arrival. The Latin “adventus” is the translation of the Greek word “parousia,” which refers specifically to the presence or arrival of a King. For Christians, the King is Jesus, the Incarnation, the Word made flesh.
As Christians we know that there are actually three advents, three arrivals. The first, the arrival of Jesus as the babe in Bethlehem and the second, the arrival of Jesus in all his glory immediately spring to mind. It is the third which we often forget but which is actually the most important, the arrival, the welcoming, the presence of Jesus in our hearts.
Advent is a time of expectation and preparation, but when Jesus comes do we welcome him into our hearts? Do we place him at the core of our being, then keep him there?
No matter what the calendar says, no matter what the time of year demands of us, we need to ask ourselves: How are we living out the Gospel message not just during Advent and Christmas, but every day?
When we as God’s people are waiting for God, we cannot wait passively. We must live our lives as a witness to the teachings of Jesus so as to bring about a change in the world and each other.
Piro is a freelance writer for Catholic publications, including Liguorian and St. Anthony Messenger, and a native of the Diocese of Brooklyn.