As Christians, we believe God came into our history. First, we believe God came as a man, Jesus Christ, his son. Second, we believe Jesus will come again, at the end of time.
As Christians we believe that Jesus is moving toward us from the future. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Christ is the “Word”, the source of all creation.
History will have an end as will our own personal life story. We don’t know when this end will occur. The end will come in our personal lives. The end will also come at the end of history, the end of the world, the time of Judgment.
Death is something the young seldom think of and the elderly never forget. But none of us knows when it will come. We must live with a sense of expectancy, and a consistent response to God’s will.
Advent is the story of God’s coming into our lives and human history. He is Immanuel, God with us. God came first as a man, born as the son of Mary, who conceived of the Holy Spirit.
The word “Advent” comes from the Latin, “advinio”, for “the coming”, or “He comes”. God comes to us. That is the main characteristic of Christian faith, compared to other faiths that simply believe in the existence of God. God comes to us, and dwells with us. The Church remembers God’s coming into our human history, and God’s coming again at the end of time with the four-week season of Advent in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas.
The Church begins the liturgical year with this expectation of God’s coming. Advent teaches us about God coming into human history. If the first two weeks of Advent we focus upon the coming of Christ at the end of history, the end of time, the end of the world. In the last two weeks of Advent, the last two weeks before Christmas, the Church focuses upon the coming of the Christ child among us with his birth in Bethlehem.
God doesn’t just come into our lives and leave. Jesus gives Himself to us his Sacraments for our eternal salvation: Baptism and Eucharist and the Sacraments for the forgiveness of sin and for mission and service. He comes and dwells with us.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus speaking about the end times. Whether during Jesus’ lifetime or at the end of time, Jesus urges us to live a life of expectancy.
Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
Drunkenness, excessive pleasure-seeking, and absorption in worldly concerns are sure ways to lose sight of our final destiny and to be caught unaware as by a concealed trap. You don’t believe in concealed traps? Ask Adam and Eve. Have you ever experienced any temptation?
Advent is the first liturgical season in the Church year, and lasts four weeks prior to the Christmas season. The Christmas season lasts 12 days, beginning December 25th.
It is important that Christians observe Advent, and not jump right into Christmas. Advent is a little like Lent, as a season for spiritual preparation. The color is violet, like purple. Traditionally, Advent is a time of prayer and sacrifice, like fasting and almsgiving.
People have asked me about the best time to put up Christmas decorations. I suggest the best time is the Third Sunday of Advent, or Gaudete Sunday. On that day, the work of Advent shifts from looking to Christ’s coming at the end of time, to his coming among us as the Christ child. For the last two weeks of Advent we begin to prepare for his coming in the Nativity. The color of Gaudete Sunday is pink, not violet; pink for the joyful coming soon of Jesus into our lives. But don’t let Advent pass you by. A priest in my seminary shared a question and insight. He responded to some who complained that Christmas was not satisfying. He observed, “Christmas was a flop because Advent was shoddy.” Make your Advent spiritually rich.
Lk 21:25-28, 34-36