The Gospel encourages us to do two things: firstly, to be realistic about the way our world is going, and secondly, at the same time, not to lose hope in the future. The danger is that we see the difficulties ahead and, as a result, we lose hope. Given the muddle we’re in, Jesus has to convince us there is room for hope in our world. Yes, He does paint a grim picture of the future for us, but He does so in order to influence what’s happening here and now. The way He does this best is through the example of His own life, from birth to resurrection.
Advent reminds us that we don’t have to sleepwalk into the future. Jesus’ advice is to “Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen.” We remember the story of Jesus again, and that memory of love becomes the ground of our hope. That’s why we re-tell the story so often, beginning with each Advent. We all need to be reminded of God’s love.
Advent is a time of celebration! A time when we remember how God broke into the life of humanity, how He became human in order to lift humanity into the life of God.
Advent is a time of struggle! A time when we try to live out the Kingdom of God. When we act with love, justice and mercy or forgiveness, we become living signs to those around us of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Advent is a time of hope! A time when we look forward to when Jesus will return in glory. Then we shall be able to see God face to face. Then there will be no more weeping or sadness, and every tear will be wiped away.
THE ORIGINS OF ADVENT
The word comes from the Latin, “adventus” which means “coming.” It began in France and Spain, where baptisms were carried out on the feast of the Epiphany, rather than Easter, and so Advent became their lenten period. Roman churches performed their baptisms at Easter, and there was nothing which remotely resembled an Advent season until it was inaugurated by Pope Gregory I, who made it four weeks long, composed prayers, antiphons and responses for the season, while also arranging the lectionary for Mass, and the Divine Office (morning and evening prayer). The Roman and Gallic rites were finally fused, giving us the rite we have today.
Lord Jesus, as You draw closer to me this Advent, give me the strength and the grace to draw closer to You. Help me to let Your light shine in my heart so that I may be a source of hope and encouragement to others. Help me to turn away from the selfish ways of sin, from all that diminishes and harms both myself and others. Give me the grace to say sorry to my family and my friends. Help me to reach out in love to others this Advent. May my heart always burn with Your love. Amen.
Remember, it’s preparation time for Christmas, and the best way we can prepare is through the Sacrament of Confession. St. Lucy’s is holding a penitential service on Monday 17th December at 7.00, while the Cathedral is having All Day confessions on Thursday 20th December, 9.00 – 5.00. Loads of priests .. loads of opportunity. Please take it!