Advent, Oriental Trading Company, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
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Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Matthew 24:42.
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Curious that today’s gospel, at the beginning of the Church’s new year, would say that we do not know on which day the Lord will come when we all know exactly when he will come! This is the time when children start counting the days down to the wondrous 25th. I remember as a child that those days seemed endless, that the wondrous 25th would never arrive. And then the actual, wonderful day, dawned… So we do know when the Lord will come! Yes, but… The Lord’s birth, his life and mission were to let us know God’s life pattern for us all, what God expects of each one of us, so that when the Lord does, indeed, come to every one of us, when we are called from this life, we know what to expect. No surprises, no protestations, no false claims, no fake news, for all will be revealed in all truth. We will not be able to hide anything! So Advent is the prequel, as it were, of all that is to come. Yes it is a season of expectation and promise, as we make ourselves ready for the anniversary of the Lord’s arrival in our midst, but it is also a reveille, as it were, to alert us to everything Jesus came for. So today’s gospel begins at the end!
All of which got me thinking about arrivals, about upcoming events, about advents, a word which comes directly from Latin, adventus or arrival. A pregnancy culminates in a grand and festive arrival; three or four years of hard study arrives in a festive graduation; working well in a job which provides satisfaction might arrive in a promotion; skilled soccer playing might arrive in a goal. And so on. Our lives are punctuated with various advents, and I can think of unwelcome advents also. So they are part of normal life. And our present liturgical advent is four weeks before the ultimate arrival of the Lord himself, so it is the supreme advent of all. In all of these examples there is a necessary preparation; advents don’t just “happen”. So our whole life is an advent which, for each of us, should culminate in our welcoming into life with God for ever. So these next few weeks should, perhaps, be a rehearsal for both welcoming the Lord once again, but also making ourselves worthy to greet him, a foretaste of that final moment here on earth for each of us. So Advent can be a time for spiritual preparation for us, greeting the arrival of the Lord, plus a spiritual preparation for that moment when the Lord will greet us! So as the house becomes decked with boughs of holly, so should our souls become spotless in order to greet the Lord of Hosts, a happy two-way spiritual street, which is the message, I believe, of today’s gospel. It rightly says that we not know on which day our Lord will come for us, but we do know that it will come, sometime, and we should always be ready for it. And, as a final note for this Advent, remember that the Christian life message is one of happiness. Fulfilling God’s plan for each of us, perfecting the skills each one of us was given at birth, using them for the betterment of others throughout our lives, thanking God for such perfect guidance and help, as seen in prayer and the sacraments, is the way to our arrival in heaven. So let our advent, long or short as it may be, be truly directed to that moment of glory and happiness when the Lord welcomes us. Now we, in our own way, can use this Advent as proper to the feast on the 25th and to ensure that that other date, whenever it may be, will be as equally joyous.
Dream of Heaven, MillersGuild.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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