This weekend we begin the season of Advent and we begin another church year as we begin our preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. As with Lent the vestments are purple and we light the first purple candle on the Advent Wreath. Advent like Lent is a time of spiritual preparation and there are many opportunities for doing this between now and Christmas Eve. In our secular world Advent seems to begin the season of Christmas and the measuring of Christmas-time profits in the business sections of our newspapers. We will hear happy, silly jingles in stores and malls. While at church, this season’s sounds will be contradictory – sober hymns that, with the Scriptures, liturgical banners and colors, will help us “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Amongst all the razzmatazz of the Christmas preparations and the madness of the shoppers on our town and city streets including Black Friday we need to stop and ask ourselves what are we waiting for this Advent. It is a question that we need to ask ourselves every year at the beginning of Advent much the same way we ask ourselves what are we doing for the six weeks of Lent at the beginning of the Lenten season. Those who are ready and awake will know when God comes and how to respond to God’s presence. Advent awakens us to realize we have invested our treasure in the wrong places and that world must end. The master, whom we serve, is coming to help us awaken from sleep so we can put aside all that is false in our lives and our world and rebuild our house on rock, that is the rock of faith
Paul’s words “God is faithful” will accompany us through any change or adjustment we need to make in our lives. This is the God Isaiah evokes as he imagines us as clay to be formed by our God, “the potter,” and reminds us, “we are all the work of gods hands.” Hope is the basis for a watchful and vigilant spirit. The Lord will come. And in the blink of an eye, God renews us, he will also renew the universe to its pristine state. The Father will transform both humanity and nature to the way he intended them to be from the first moment of creation–free from sin, sickness, and death–free from the consequences of evil. In our anticipation for the Lord’s coming, we hope that our faith will help reveal the Kingdom and prepare others as well as ourselves for eternity. Our efforts alone will not bring about the Kingdom, as if we humans can progress or evolve to a higher plane by ourselves. But, God, acting through us, will reveal and realize the Kingdom. Then, when we act according to his will; we add our contribution to his activity. CCC 1042-1050
As Blessed John Henry Newman reminded us in a homily for the Advent Season: “Advent is a time of waiting, it is a time of joy because the coming of Christ is not only a gift of grace and salvation but it is also a time of commitment because it motivates us to live the present as a time of responsibility and vigilance. This ‘vigilance’ means the necessity, the urgency of an industrious, living ‘wait’. To make all this happen, then we need to wake up, as we are warned by the apostle to the Gentiles, in the reading to the Romans: ‘Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rm 13:11).
As we begin this advent we ask ourselves what are we waiting for ? Are we waiting for the presents and razzmatazz of Christmas Day or are we preparing for the greatest gift of God, Jesus his Son, Christ the light in the darkness for a broken world.